Gambling is an activity in which people place a wager on an event with a monetary value, such as a football match or a scratchcard. People choose the outcome of their bets based on a combination of chance and skill. While there are many benefits of gambling, it can also have negative effects on health and wellbeing.

There are many factors that contribute to developing a gambling problem. Some risk factors include a history of family problems, personal bankruptcy, drug abuse, depression and loneliness. It’s important to seek help if you have problems with gambling. You can get help by talking to a therapist. BetterHelp connects you with licensed, accredited therapists who can help you with gambling addiction, depression, relationships and more.

The decision to gamble is often a response to feelings of anxiety or boredom. The act of gambling triggers the reward center of your brain and produces a feeling of pleasure. However, this reward can be short-lived, and a person may experience an urge to gamble again and again. In order to break this cycle, it’s important to find alternative ways to feel happy.

While the psychiatric community used to treat pathological gambling as more of a compulsion than an addiction, the American Psychiatric Association recently changed this and moved it into the category of impulse control disorders along with kleptomania, pyromania and trichotillomania (hair-pulling). Regardless of its classification, there are ways to overcome a gambling addiction. Practicing mindfulness, strengthening your support network and seeking therapy can all help.