Gambling is the risking of something of value on an event that is at least in part determined by chance. The outcome, or ‘win,’ can be anything from money to goods to services. It can be done alone, with a friend or family member, in a group or as a business activity. Some people gamble for the thrill of winning, to socialise, or as a way to relieve boredom. However, for some people gambling can become harmful and they may need help to stop.

Gambling can affect mental health in a number of ways, including triggering feelings of euphoria linked to the brain’s reward system and reducing self-esteem, especially when losses occur. It can also be a trigger for substance use disorders, such as alcohol and drug addiction, and lead to depression and anxiety. It can also be a source of debt, and those who have debt problems are often at risk of harmful gambling behaviours. If you are struggling with debt, speak to StepChange for free, confidential advice.

There are several types of treatment available for gambling disorder, including psychotherapy, which is a broad term for different treatments and takes place with a trained mental health professional. Psychotherapy can help you to understand your thoughts and emotions, and how they affect your behavior, so that you can change them. There are no FDA-approved medications for gambling disorder, but some drugs may be helpful in treating co-occurring conditions such as depression and anxiety.