Addiction Addictive Behaviors How Gambling Disorder Is Defined in the DSM-5 By Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD is a psychologist, professor, and Director of the Centre for Health Leadership and Research at Royal Roads University, Canada. Learn about our editorial process Updated on January 18, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Steven Gans, MD Medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Sylvia Serrado / Getty Images Gambling disorder is a behavioral addiction diagnosis introduced in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth edition (DSM-5). This was the first formal recognition of behavioral addiction in the psychiatry text, which is considered the "gold standard" in the field of mental health. The previous version DSM-IV called the condition "pathological gambling" and it was classified as an impulse control disorder rather than as the addictive disorder. The parallels between gambling addiction and drug addiction have been drawn by experts for decades, although whether or not behavioral addictions share similar characteristics to substance addictions has always been controversial. Symptoms To meet the criteria for gambling disorder, a person has to have at least four of the problems identified below, within a 12-month period, in conjunction with "persistent and recurrent problematic gambling behavior:" Needing to gamble with more money to get the same excitement from gambling as beforeFeels restless or irritable when trying to reduce or stop gamblingKeeps trying to reduce or stop gambling without successGambling is frequently on the person's mind—both reliving past gambling experiences and planning future gambling eventsGambles when feeling depressed, guilty, or anxiousTries to win back gambling lossesLies to cover up how much they are gamblingLoses not only money, but also relationships, their job, or a significant career opportunity as a result of gamblingBecomes dependent on other people to give them money to deal with financial problems that have been caused by gambling How Gambling Disorder Is Distinct From Bipolar Disorder What is now unquestioned is that gambling behaviors can become problematic, can lead to major financial and emotional problems, and are treatable using similar approaches to the treatment of substance addictions. This has been repeatedly demonstrated by research, and as a result, it is now fully recognized as an addictive disorder. Sometimes people who have bipolar disorder gamble a lot while they are having a manic episode. This is not a gambling disorder, even though the behaviors and the consequences can be similar. However, this is not to say that gambling problems that happen during mania are not serious, but rather, to make the distinction between gambling problems that emerge from a pattern of addiction and those that occur during certain phases of bipolar disorder. Disordered Thinking One of the features associated with gambling disorder is distortions in thinking. For example, like other addictions, denial is common. But unlike other addictions, people who develop gambling disorder are typically quite superstitious, and those superstitions reinforce the addiction, and belief in winning. Another pattern of distorted thinking that may occur in gambling disorder involves "chasing one's losses." Prevalence of Suicide Although gambling problems may seem trivial on the surface, in reality, they are anything but. One of the reasons that gambling disorder has become recognized is because of the severe consequences for individuals and their families. Not only do some people who develop gambling disorder literally gamble away everything they own, and end up in crippling debt, but far more of them become suicidal than would be expected in the general population. In treatment populations, about half of those with gambling disorder have suicidal ideation, and about 18% have attempted suicide. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. 8 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Rennert L, Denis C, Peer K, Lynch KG, Gelernter J, Kranzler HR. DSM-5 gambling disorder: prevalence and characteristics in a substance use disorder sample. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2014;22(1):50–56. doi:10.1037/a0034518 Stinchfield R, McCready J, Turner NE, et al. Reliability, validity, and classification accuracy of the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for gambling disorder and comparison to DSM-IV. J Gambl Stud. 2016;32(3):905–922. doi:10.1007/s10899-015-9573-7 American Psychiatric Association. What is gambling disorder? Rash CJ, Weinstock J, Van Patten R. A review of gambling disorder and substance use disorders. Subst Abuse Rehabil. 2016;7:3–13. doi:10.2147/SAR.S83460 Jones L, Metcalf A, Gordon-Smith K, et al. Gambling problems in bipolar disorder in the UK: prevalence and distribution. Br J Psychiatry. 2015;207(4):328–333. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.114.154286 Menchon JM, Mestre-Bach G, Steward T, Fernández-Aranda F, Jiménez-Murcia S. An overview of gambling disorder: from treatment approaches to risk factors. F1000Res. 2018;7:434. doi:10.12688/f1000research.12784.1 Hahnmann TE. Moderate-risk and problem slot machine gamblers: a typology of gambling-related cognitions. J Gambl Issues. 2016;34. doi:10.4309/jgi.2016.34.8 Mallorquí-Bagué N, Mena-Moreno T, Granero R, et al. Suicidal ideation and history of suicide attempts in treatment-seeking patients with gambling disorder: the role of emotion dysregulation and high trait impulsivity. J Behav Addict. 2018;7(4):1112–1121. doi:10.1556/2006.7.2018.132 Additional Reading American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). 2013. By Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD is a psychologist, professor, and Director of the Centre for Health Leadership and Research at Royal Roads University, Canada. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Get Treatment for Addiction Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.