Whether it is betting on a football match, buying a lottery ticket or playing the pokies, gambling involves risking something of value (money or possessions) on a random event with the intention to win something else of value. It can also be a fun activity and provide social contact. However, it can be addictive and can cause significant harm to those who are unable to control their urges. Moreover, underlying mood disorders such as depression or anxiety can trigger gambling problems and may be made worse by compulsive gambling.
Research has shown that the release of dopamine when gambling activates brain areas similar to those stimulated by taking drugs of abuse. Therefore, it is not surprising that many people develop an addiction to gambling. Additionally, certain genetic predispositions and personality traits can lead some individuals to seek thrills or be impulsive, making them more likely to gamble. Furthermore, the way our culture views gambling as a normal pastime can make it hard for people to recognize a problem.
If you have a gambling problem, it is important to seek help. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help by challenging your beliefs about gambling and helping you to understand your urges. It is also a good idea to seek treatment for any underlying mood disorders such as depression or anxiety that may be triggering your gambling behaviour. These disorders can be exacerbated by gambling and, even when you have stopped gambling, remain a significant threat to your well-being.