Pathological Gambling

Gambling involves placing something of value, usually money, at risk on an event with a significant element of chance. This can include lottery tickets, cards, bingo, slots, machines or instant scratch tickets, races and animal tracks, sporting events, dice, or roulett. The goal is to win a greater amount than the initial investment. It can be very difficult to control one’s impulses and to stop gambling, even after experiencing a few wins. This is due to the fact that humans desire to feel in control. They may believe that they can increase their chances of winning by performing certain rituals such as throwing the dice a particular way or wearing a lucky item of clothing. Despite this, gambling is always unpredictable and the individual has little control over it’s outcome.

Pathological gambling can affect people of all ages. It is more common in men than women and tends to run in families. It typically starts in adolescence or young adulthood, though some people may not become symptomatic until later in life. It can also coexist with other psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Counseling can help individuals who struggle with gambling. It can provide tools to overcome cravings and improve self-control. Treatments are available including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, group therapy and family therapy. Longitudinal research can be helpful in understanding the etiology of gambling disorders, as it allows researchers to measure factors over time. This is a more precise and cost effective approach than traditional methods that require sampling the same individuals repeatedly.