Certain traits such as having a competitive character, being restless, and getting bored easily
Symptoms of compulsive gambling may include:
Gambling longer than you intended to
Taking time from work or family life to gamble
Feeling guilty after gambling
Lying to hide gambling
Not being able to sleep because of thoughts about gambling
Having financial problems because of gambling such as:
Spending all of your money on gambling
Needing to borrow money for gambling
Trying to earn money through gambling to pay your bills
Being involved in illegal activities to get money for gambling
Trying to quit gambling but not being able to
Feeling depressed or suicidal due to gambling
You may be referred to a mental health therapist. The therapist will ask about your:
Mental health history
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
Counseling for compulsive gambling may include
cognitive-behavioral therapy. This type of therapy can help you learn to correct the negative thoughts and beliefs that lead you to gamble, find healthier responses to stress, develop social skills, and prevent relapse. Therapy can also help uncover what led you to compulsively gamble.
There is some evidence that people who compulsively gamble may benefit from medications, such as:
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
There is no known way to prevent compulsive gambling. If you have a problem with impulse control, avoiding situations where there is gambling may prevent you from developing a problem.
Black DW, Monahan PO, Temkit M, Shaw M. A family study of pathological gambling. Psychiatry Res. 2006;141(3):295-303.
Dannon PN, Lowengrub K, et al. Pathological gambling: a review of phenomenological models and treatment modalities for an underrecognized psychiatric disorder. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2006;8(6):334-339.
Kalechstein AD, Fong T, Gonopolski Y, Musin E, Kotler M. Pathological gamblers demonstrate frontal lobe impairment consistent with that of methamphetamine dependent individuals. J Neuropsych Clin Neurosci. 2007;19(3):298-303.
Signs of a gambling problem. Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling website. Available at: https://masscompulsivegambling.org/resources/signs-of-a-gambling-problem. Accessed October 4, 2017.
10 questions about gambling behavior. Problem Gambling Coalition of Colorado website. Available at: http://www.problemgamblingcolorado.org/content/10-questions. Accessed October 4, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 7/17/20
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