Gambling involves risking something of value (money, items, or status) on the outcome of a game of chance. It may involve placing a bet on a sports team or other event, playing a casino game like poker, blackjack, roulette, craps, or bingo, or buying lottery tickets. It also includes skill-based games such as golf, tennis, horse racing, and boxing that require strategy and skills. While gambling can be fun and entertaining, it can also have negative consequences, such as addiction and financial problems. People with gambling disorder have a difficult time controlling their behavior and may lie to family members, therapists, or others about the extent of their problem.
Research suggests that mood disorders are a significant risk factor for pathological gambling. Depression, in particular, tends to co-occur with gambling disorder and appears to be an important cause of its recurrence. Some studies have shown that depressive symptoms precede gambling disorder, while other studies indicate that gambling disorders occur primarily in individuals who are already depressed.
Some people who gamble do so for coping reasons, such as to relieve boredom, stress, or anxiety. In these cases, it is important to find healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings. Some options include spending more time with friends who do not gamble, enrolling in a class or club that interests you, exercising, practicing relaxation techniques, and seeking support from family and community groups. You can also seek counseling, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, marriage or family therapy, and career or credit counseling.