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Gambling continuously and repeatedly to the point where it causes problems in a person’s life and anxiousness is deemed a Gambling Disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5)*.

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), it is estimated that two million—or one percent—of adults in the nation fit the criteria for a Gambling Disorder. It is approximated that between four and six million—or between two and three percent—of Americans are thought to be problem gamblers. That means they do not have the presence of all the criteria for the disorder, but they do have a minimum of one of them and are having difficulties with gambling. The NCPG said that research shows a majority of the adults who gamble are able to do so responsibly. (http://www.ncpgambling.org/help-treatment/faq/)

*The DSM-5 is published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Gambling Disorder DSM-5 312.31 F63.0

According to the DSM-5, a person who shows a minimum of four signs in a one-year period has met the criteria for Gambling Disorder. The criteria include:

  • The individual with the disorder feels the desire to gamble and uses more and more money to get the pleasure he craves.
  • Finds himself agitated and annoyed when he tries to gamble less or halt altogether.
  • He has tried time and again to curb, lessen or halt gambling, but has not been able to.
  • Many times, he obsesses about gambling, such as thinking about his past gambling involvement; preparing for another gambling session; and devising how to get the money he needs for gambling.
  • When he feels unhappy, distraught, remorseful and hopeless, he gambles.
  • When he is defeated during gambling, he tries to make up for the loss of money by going back to gamble again, trying to win back what he lost.
  • He is dishonest about his gambling, trying to cover up how much he participates in it.
  • His gambling has caused an important relationship, academics, current career or future chance of a job to be in serious peril.
  • He depends on other people to give him the money he needs to resolve serious problems he is having (paying the mortgage, utilities, loans, car payments).
  • The gambling is not because of a manic episode.

The DSM-5 indicates the seriousness of the disorder by using the following guidelines.

  • Episodic means the person met the criteria for the disorder a minimum of one time and had the disorder for quite a few months.
  • Persistent describes the person having constant signs of gambling disorder and has met the criteria for several years.

When an individual is in early remission, it means that he met guidelines for the disorder before, but they have halted for a time period of a minimum of three months and fewer than 12 months.

Sustained remission is described as a person who, in the past, had met the criteria for the disorder; however, no criteria for the disorder has been evident in one year or more.

In addition, the DSM-5 evaluates the individual with a gambling disorder on the number of criteria they have met. When a person meets between four and five of the criteria, his disorder is considered mild. If he meets between six and seven of the criteria, the disorder is deemed moderate. Once an individual has met eight or nine of the criteria, his disorder is severe.

Emotional and Physical Signs of Gambling Disorder DSM-5 312.31 F63.0

People with Gambling Disorder may show many different signs that the behavior is affecting them negatively. The emotional signs are:

  • Anxiousness.
  • Sadness and depression.
  • Thinking of suicide.
  • A possible attempt of suicide.
  • Hopelessness.

The physical signs that may show are:

  • Lack of sleep.
  • Pallor to the skin.
  • Gain or loss in weight.
  • Blemishes on the face.
  • Dark circles underneath the eyes.

Effects of Gambling Disorder DSM-5 312.31 F63.0

Many times, Gambling Disorder will cause another addiction that the individual uses to be able to deal with the situation. Since he may be anxious about the gambling, he may use drugs or alcohol to lessen the feelings of anxiety. The result of using substances as a way to cope will also compound the problems in relationships that have already been negatively affected by the Gambling Disorder.

Gambling Disorder is many times related to depression. When an individual is depressed, he may display signs of tiredness, sluggishness, a loss of appetite and sadness.

Is There Therapy for Gambling Disorder DSM-5 312.31 F63.0?

People with Gambling Disorder have found success with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. A therapist will work with the individual to find out what may have led to the behavior. (Many times, people who gamble think they will play just a little while longer to be able to get the large winnings—the pot of gold. Sometimes the people who gamble have lost a great amount of money and have been unable to pay their bills. They believe if they keep gambling, they will hit the jackpot and be able to pay those bills off.) In addition, the person may have mood swings that are dependable on winning or losing when gambling.

A therapist will work with the individual to be able to identify his misunderstandings and thinking about gambling to adjust it.

Group therapy sessions may be helpful in order to identify the triggers that cause the gambling behavior. In addition, the other members of the group can be a supportive network, as well as help the individual who feels alone from the results of the gambling.

Family therapy can be very helpful, especially since members of the family have probably been affected. Family members can be educated about Gambling Disorder and how to help their loved one. The family can also address the problems the disorder has caused and the ways to mend relationships, helping the family to work together on the road to recovery.

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