Gambling is the betting of something of value (including money, property, or services) upon an uncertain event with a conscious risk of loss and hope of gain. This includes putting money on a sports team to win, buying a lottery ticket or scratchcard, and even online gaming. However, gambling does not include business transactions based on the law of contracts, such as the purchase of stocks or securities or health and life insurance.
Many people enjoy gambling as a form of entertainment, socialising or escape from stress. However, for some people it becomes a problem that affects their lives and mental health. It is important to recognise the signs and symptoms of gambling disorder, and seek help when you need it.
Problematic gambling is a serious mental health issue that affects your ability to make sound decisions. When you gamble, the brain’s reward pathway is activated – just like when you spend time with loved ones or eat delicious food. This creates a cycle of rewarding yourself for the actions you take, encouraging you to keep taking risks and gambling more.
It can be hard to know when your gambling is causing harm, so some people downplay the effects or lie about their behavior. Psychotherapy is a powerful tool that can help you control your gambling and improve your relationships with family and friends. This may involve individual or group therapy, and psychodynamic therapies that explore how unconscious processes influence your behaviour.