• Pathological or compulsive gambling refers to the inability to stop gambling, which typically has serious personal or social consequences.


    In men, pathological gambling usually begins in early adolescence. In women, it often occurs between ages 20 and 40.


    Symptoms of pathological gambling include lack of success in quitting gambling, feeling restless or irritable when trying to stop, gambling larger amounts of money to make up for losses, borrowing money and committing crimes for money to gamble, and loss of job or relationship because of gambling.


    Patient history and a psychiatric evaluation can help diagnose the problem, as well as screening questionnaires.


    Successful treatment depends on a patient first admit to having a gambling problem. Treatment options include support groups like Gamblers Anonymous, counseling and therapy designed to change patient behavior.


    Limiting exposure to gambling lowers risk, but different opportunities to gamble have actually increased with the internet, lotteries and casinos. Treating pathological gambling early on may prevent symptoms from worsening.


    University of Maryland Medical Center: Pathological gambling

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