Gambling is an activity where someone takes a risk by exchanging money or valuables for an outcome that is determined at least in part by chance. It can include games like poker, horse racing and sports betting. It also includes lotteries and scratchcards. The total amount of money that is legally wagered on gambling in the world each year is estimated to be about $10 trillion. Pathological gambling is a form of addiction that affects about 4% of the population and has high rates of co-occurence with mood disorders, such as depression.

A person who has a gambling disorder is defined as someone whose behavior interferes with daily functioning, work or school performance, or social relationships. Problem gambling is often associated with other mental health issues and can lead to legal or financial problems. It can even impact a person’s physical health, including heart disease or stroke.

In addition to financial and emotional difficulties, people with a gambling disorder are more likely to experience thoughts of suicide. This is a serious concern and people with these thoughts should seek help immediately.

Some types of psychotherapy can be used to treat a gambling disorder. Psychotherapy includes many different techniques that aim to identify and change unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors that contribute to gambling. It can be used alone or in conjunction with other treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy.

People who gamble are at higher risk for developing a gambling disorder if they have a family history of gambling disorder, if they are male or if they start gambling at a younger age. It is important for people with a gambling disorder to have strong support networks that can help them overcome their problems. They should try to avoid gambling with friends who have a history of gambling problems.

The most effective way to reduce the risks of gambling is to start with a fixed amount of money that you’re prepared to lose and never gamble more than you can afford to lose. You can also use credit counseling services to get the financial advice you need. For instance, if you’re struggling with debt, contact StepChange for free, confidential debt advice. They can also help you set up a budget and create a repayment plan. You can also get professional support through family therapy and marriage, career and credit counseling services. These can help you rebuild your relationships and finances and learn how to cope with triggers that may make you gamble.