Gambling is the risking of something of value, usually money, on an event that has the potential to produce a gain (a prize). This can involve games where skill may affect the outcome, such as card games and sports events. It can also include lotteries and other forms of organized gambling that may be legal in some jurisdictions.
Some people gamble for fun, while others have serious problems that can be a major source of distress. These issues can be financial, such as accumulating debt or running up credit cards, or emotional, such as the desire to escape from reality or feeling low. There is a strong link between mental health problems and harmful gambling. People who have depression or anxiety are more likely to be at risk of gambling problems. People with mental health issues are also more likely to gamble for coping reasons, such as to distract themselves or to feel better about themselves. They may be at greater risk of harmful gambling if they have had other traumas in their life, or have family members with gambling problems.
People with gambling disorders can be treated. Various types of therapy are available, including cognitive behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy. Several medications are also used in treatment. The effectiveness of these treatments varies, as does their success in clinical trials. The reason for this variation is not known, but it may be due to different underlying assumptions about the etiology of pathological gambling.