Gambling involves risking something of value – such as money or possessions – on the outcome of an event based in part on chance. This might include betting on football matches, horse races, scratchcard games or lottery tickets. It can also include playing casino games such as blackjack, roulette, video poker and craps in brick-and-mortar or online casinos.
People gamble for fun, or to win money or other prizes, but some people develop a problem with gambling that can be serious and debilitating. It can lead to financial and personal difficulties, such as debt, relationship problems, and strained or broken family ties. It can also exacerbate mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Research suggests that some individuals may be genetically predisposed to thrill-seeking behaviours and impulsivity, while others might have underactive reward centers in their brains or other factors that contribute to their propensity for gambling. People in some communities may be socialized to consider gambling as a normal pastime, which can make it harder for them to recognize or seek help when they are struggling.
Several types of psychotherapy can help people who struggle with gambling disorders. These include individual, group and family therapy, as well as psychoanalysis and cognitive behavioral therapy. Many of these therapies focus on identifying and changing unhealthy thoughts, emotions and behaviors that contribute to gambling disorder. In addition, it’s important to find healthy ways to cope with stress and improve your support network.