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Help For Gambling Problems


Gambling is an activity in which people risk something of value, such as money or property, in an attempt to win something of equal value. Some people gamble for fun, while others do it to make money or avoid financial distress. However, gambling can become a problem for some people if they lose control over it. If you are concerned about your gambling, there is help available.

Many people use gambling as a way to relieve boredom, relax, socialize or distract themselves from stress. But it is important to remember that there are healthier ways of coping with these feelings. Try to find other healthy ways of relaxing and releasing tension, such as exercise, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, and practicing stress-relief techniques.

A psychiatric disorder called pathological gambling (PG) is characterized by persistent and recurrent maladaptive patterns of gambling behavior. It can lead to serious consequences, such as severe debt and family problems. It can also be associated with substance abuse and other mental health disorders. PG can develop in adolescence or young adulthood and usually starts before age 30. It is more common in men than in women and tends to affect those with less education. It is more likely to occur in those who play strategic or face-to-face forms of gambling, such as blackjack or poker, than in those who play nonstrategic, less interpersonally interactive forms of gambling, such as slots or bingo.

The onset of PG is often gradual. Those who have a comorbid mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety, are more at risk for developing a PG disorder than those who do not have one. Those who have a family history of PG are also at greater risk.

There are a variety of treatments available for those with a PG disorder. These treatments include psychotherapy, which is a type of talking therapy, and medication. Psychotherapy aims to change unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors, while medications may help with the physical symptoms of the PG disorder, such as anxiety and depression.

Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved any medications for the treatment of a PG disorder. However, several types of psychotherapy have proven effective in addressing the underlying causes of the disorder. During treatment, a patient and therapist work together to identify unhelpful beliefs and behaviors, such as denial or resistance, that contribute to the development of a PG disorder. The therapist also works with the patient to develop healthy coping strategies, such as developing new leisure activities and learning healthier ways to deal with negative emotions. This process can take a long time and may have setbacks, but it is vital for the recovery of those with a PG disorder. The most effective treatments combine psychotherapy with medication and other therapies. This combination allows patients to receive the most comprehensive care and improve their chances of a full recovery.

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