The earliest known gambling activity occurred in ancient China. Tiles from around 2,300 B.C. have been discovered that were used to play a rudimentary form of chance.
People who are addicted to gambling may experience one or more of the following: – Losses from gambling cause distress (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression); – They have lost significant relationships, jobs, educational opportunities or financial security because of gambling; – They hide their involvement with gambling from family members, coworkers and therapists; – They lie in order to conceal how much money they have lost in a gambling session; – They have engaged in illegal activities such as forgery, fraud, theft and embezzlement to finance their gambling; – They are unable to control their gambling urges, despite attempts to stop.
Several treatments are available for pathological gambling. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is effective in changing unhealthy thinking and behavior, such as rationalizations, and teaching coping skills to fight urges to gamble. Psychiatric treatment also addresses any underlying conditions that contribute to compulsive gambling, such as substance abuse and mental health problems like depression or anxiety.
Longitudinal studies that follow the same group of individuals over a period of years provide valuable information about the onset, development and maintenance of both normal and problem gambling behaviors. However, longitudinal research in gambling is difficult to conduct because it is expensive, time consuming and requires a large sample size. Despite these challenges, longitudinal studies are becoming more common and sophisticated.