Gambling Disorder, Internet and Cell phone Addiction.


Gambling Disorder.

Gambling Disorder refers to an urge to gamble despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop. It can be defined as placing something of value at risk with the belief of gaining something. It can occur on different levels and goes through different phases.

Level of gambling are:

  • Level 0 person who did not gamble;
  • Level 1 refers to social or recreational gambling and does not leads to any significant problem;
  • Level 2 referred as at- risk gambling or problem gambling;
  • Level 3 associated with significant psychosocial dysfunctions. It meets the DSMIV-TR criteria of pathological gambling.

Winning Phase: The individual uses gambling as a way to get excitement or to manage the stressor. The person wins lots of game during this phase or makes money by winning.

Losing Phase: The person remains preoccupied with gambling or to bet more to reduce the loss.

Desperation phase: The person start experiencing health and relationship problems as well as hopelessness & desperation due to gambling. He/she keeps fantasizing about the winning and indulges in crimes to support the gambling.

Hopeless phase: The person starts entertaining the depressive ideas about future, his or her abilities to overcome the current problems and leads to psychological problems. Thus pathological gambling is characterized by persistent and recurrent problematic gambling behavior leading to clinically significant impairment or distress. The person has a pathological need to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement.

Attempts to reduce or stop gambling lead to irritability or restlessness. The person might have made multiple unsuccessful attempts to control, cut back or stop the behavior. The person often gambles, whenever distressed. After losing money in gambling, the person returns another day to chase one’s losses.

Diagnostic Criteria for Gambling Disorder.

A. Persistent and recurrent problematic gambling behavior leading to clinically significant impairment of distress, as indicated by the individual exhibiting four (or more) of the following in a 12-month period:
1. Needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement.
2. Is restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling.
3. Has made repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling.
4. Is often preoccupied with gambling (e.g., having persistent thoughts of reliving past gambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, or thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble).
5. Often gambles when feeling distressed (e.g., helpless, guilty, anxious, depressed).
6. After losing money gambling, often returns another day to get even (“chasing” one’s losses).
7. Lies to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling.
8. Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of gambling.
9. Relies on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling.

B. The gambling behavior is not better explained by a manic episode.

Specify current severity:
Mild: 4-5 criteria met
Moderate: 6-7 criteria met
Severe: 8-9 criteria met


Signs and symptoms of compulsive gambling (gambling disorder) can include:

  • Being preoccupied with gambling, such as constantly planning gambling activities and how to get more gambling money
  • Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money to get the same thrill
  • Trying to control, cut back or stop gambling, without success
  • Feeling restless or irritable when you try to cut down on gambling
  • Gambling to escape problems or relieve feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression
  • Trying to get back lost money by gambling more (chasing losses)
  • Lying to family members or others to hide the extent of your gambling
  • Risking or losing important relationships, a job, or school or work opportunities because of gambling
  • Asking others to bail you out of financial trouble because you gambled money away

Internet Addiction or Internet Gaming Disorder.

Internet has rapidly become a way of life. One of its effects has been excessive use of internet to the extent of neglect of all other interests and responsibilities. One may become addicted to internet. Though internet addiction is not recognized as a formal psychiatric disorder. It is important to mention here that internet gaming has gradually become a booming market.

DSM -5 has defined internet gaming disorder as persistent and recurrent use of internet to engage in games, often with other players, leading to clinically significant impair mentor distress. Important characteristic of the disorder include preoccupation with internet games with previous gaming activity or anticipating playing the next game. This is distinct from internet gambling which comes under gambling disorder. The person gets withdrawal symptoms in form of anxiety, irritability or sadness, when internet gaming is not available.

Use of internet continues despite knowledge of associated psychosocial problems. The activity is indulged in to escape or relieve a negative mood. The behavior has often resulted in relationship problems and affected education or career adversely. DSM-5 does not include use of internet activities in business or profession, recreation or sexual internet sites as indicative of internet gaming disorder.

The criterion proposed for internet addiction disorder are as follows (Young 1999):

  1. Preoccupation: a strong desire for the internet
  2. Withdrawal: discontinuation leads to dysphoric mood, anxiety, irritability
  3. Tolerance: marked increase in usages to achieve satisfaction
  4. Difficult to control: persistent desire and/or unsuccessful attempts to control
  5. Disregard of harmful consequences: continued excessive use despite harmful consequences
  6. Social communications and interests are lost: loss of interests and previous hobbies
  7. Alleviation of negative emotions: uses as a way of coping
  8. Hiding from friends and relatives: deception of actual costs/time to maintain habit.

Cell Phone addiction.

Mobile or cell phone addiction has also attracted the attention of behavior scientists, though it is not recognized as a formal disorder. Excessive use is likely to be associated with a loss of sense of time or a neglect of basic drives. A person apparently addicted to cell phone use may report feelings of anger, tension and/or depression on not being able to use it, especially when the phone or network is inaccessible.

Tolerance to the use may be seen including the need for new and better cell instrument, more software or more hours of use. Other negative repercussions include lying, arguments, poor achievement, social isolation and fatigue.

Important characteristics of cellphone addiction include excessive use, manifested in both high economic cost and in numerous calls and messages; problems, especially with parents, associated with excessive use of mobile phones; interference with other school or personal activities; a gradual increase in use to obtain the same level of satisfaction as well as the need to replace functioning devices with new models; and emotional alterations when the use of the phone is impeded.


David H. Barlow, V. Mark Durand. Abnormal Psychology, An Integrative Approach. (7th ed).

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