Problematic gambling behaviour is distinct from a gambling addiction. Symptoms that may indicate that you have a gambling disorder include:
- You gamble with more and more money to achieve the desired level of excitement.
- You often gamble when you feel gloomy, or experience feelings of helplessness and guilt.
- Gambling is always on your mind. You constantly think about previous gambling experiences and are always preparing for your next gambling activity.
- You become restless and irritable when trying to reduce or stop gambling.
- You minimise or deny the issue towards yourself, and also lie to others about your gambling behaviour.
- You struggle to stick to agreements about your gambling behaviour. Attempts to stop gambling fail.
- After losing money through gambling, you gamble again to regain your loss.
- Your gambling puts pressure on your friends, family, studies and financial situation.
- You become financially dependent on others in an attempt to alleviate your unhealthy financial situation.
A gambling disorder develops over the years, with the gambling pattern gradually increasing in terms of frequency, stakes and risks. People with problematic gambling behaviour also generally develop mistaken beliefs about how the game works and about their chances of winning. Based on these beliefs, they also elaborate certain ‘strategies’, which, however, have no impact on the outcome at all.
The constant preoccupation with gambling, ‘arranging’ money, making excuses and shielding oneself can lead to financial, social and emotional problems. Anxiety, stress, nervousness, distrust, fears and depressive symptoms often arise. In addition, an unhealthy lifestyle often develops with physical complaints such as sleep problems, headaches, heart problems, back pain and gastrointestinal problems. A gambling disorder is often associated with impulsivity and substance abuse.