Tests and diagnosisBy Mayo Clinic staff
To be diagnosed with compulsive gambling, you must meet the symptom criteria spelled out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This manual is published by the American Psychiatric Association and is used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.
DSM criteria for the diagnosis of compulsive gambling require that at least five of the following signs and symptoms must be present:
- Being preoccupied with gambling, such as reliving past gambling experiences or planning ways to get gambling money
- Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money to become excited
- Trying to cut back on gambling, without success
- Getting restless or irritable when attempting to cut down on gambling
- Gambling as a way to escape problems or to relieve feelings of helplessness or sadness
- Chasing losses, or trying to get back lost money by gambling more
- Lying to family members, therapists or others to hide the extent of gambling
- Committing fraud, theft or other illegal acts for the sake of gambling
- Jeopardizing or losing an important relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of gambling
- Turning to others for money when the financial situation becomes desperate
Because excessive gambling can sometimes be a sign of bipolar disorder, mental health providers are careful to rule out this disorder before making a diagnosis.
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