People gamble for a variety of reasons: to win money, socialize, and escape worries or stress. For some, gambling can become a serious problem. If you have lost control and are spending more than you can afford, lying to family and friends, hiding evidence of your gambling or stealing money to fund it, you may have a gambling disorder.
Longitudinal studies in the area of gambling are becoming more common, but there are still many obstacles to conducting them, such as the huge funding required for a multiyear commitment; the difficulty of maintaining research team continuity over a long period of time (e.g., due to staff turnover); the potential for repeated testing of individuals to affect results; and the knowledge that longitudinal data confound aging and period effects (e.g., does a person’s sudden interest in gambling result from reaching the age of majority or from the opening of a casino in their neighborhood?).
The first step in stopping harmful gambling is realizing that you have a problem. It’s also important to address any underlying mood disorders, as they can both trigger gambling problems and make them worse. You can get help for depression and other conditions by speaking to a therapist or counselor. There are no FDA-approved medications to treat gambling disorders, but psychotherapy can help you change unhealthy emotions and behaviors. You can also try taking up a hobby or spending more time with friends.