What Are the Symptoms of Pathological Gambling and How to Treat It – 2024 Guide

Gambling can be a fun activity when conducted in moderation. However, as we all know, gambling addiction is not uncommon, and pathological gambling can lead to a number of physical, mental, social, and emotional problems. Gambling addiction is a condition that is classified as an impulse control disorder, comes with a certain set of symptoms, and needs to be treated. Here’s more information on that.

Symptoms of Pathological Gambling


Some of the physical symptoms that occur in people who are pathological gamblers are frequent headaches and unbearable migraines, digestive tract disorders, and other symptoms associated with anxiety states. On the other hand, gambling can also lead to very severe depression and feelings of helplessness, which often end in (successful or unsuccessful) suicide attempts. As you can conclude, this condition is not at all naive and can have very severe consequences on people’s psychosomatic health.

How Do Doctors Diagnose Pathological Gambling?


Doctors establish the diagnosis of pathological gambling through a series of questions and answers they receive from gamblers. The diagnosis of gambling addiction occurs after the detection of the presence of at least four of all the listed signs in the previous year.

  • A person feels restless when they start thinking about quitting gambling
  • The need to invest more and more money in gambling in order to feel the same level of excitement
  • Had several consecutive, unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling
  • Is constantly planning new gambling actions
  • Needs to gamble to calm down when they feel anxious
  • Lying to hide their gambling
  • Returning to gambling even when a person loses all the money they have invested
  • Gambling starting to negatively interfere with other spheres of a person’s life
  • Taking money from others so they can finance gambling

To be clear, this goes to both going to the casino, as well as playing slot online, as well as other casino games that are available on the internet, and are treated in the same way.

How Do Doctors Treat Pathological Gambling?


There are three main approaches to treating pathological gambling. The first involves behavioral therapy during which the individual’s need to gamble is reduced due to a change in the way of thinking and emotions towards this activity. Another approach involves the use of drugs. The type of medication depends on the symptoms the gambler has and may include mood stabilizers as well as antidepressants if the patient has depressive episodes. Drugs are sometimes used to treat drug addiction, in cases of compulsive gambling. Another approach that can be used is to participate in self-help groups where people who are in the same situation share their experiences and help each other get through a difficult period.

Conclusion: Gambling in some situations can turn into an addiction that is classified as an impulse-control disorder and that has its own mental, physical, social, emotional, and other consequences. A pathological gambler often has typical symptoms of anxiety, but some of them also go through depressive episodes that sometimes end in a suicide attempt. Pathological gambling is treated with behavioral therapy, medication, or participation in self-help groups.

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