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Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-IV)

The Diagnostic Statistical Manual DSM is the manual mental health professionals consult for characteristics of mental disorders. The manual has had a category for Pathological Gambling since 1980. The ten criteria in the most recent version, the DSM-IV, are used as one of the guidelines along with other diagnostic tools to indicate the severity of a gambling problem. A score of five or more is categorized as pathological gambling, but a score of three or four could indicate a serious concern for the problems gambling is creating in one's life.

Diagnostic Criteria for 312.31 Pathological Gambling

A.  Persistent and recurrent maladaptive gambling behavior as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  1. is preoccupied with gambling (e.g., preoccupied with reliving past gambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, or thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble)

  2. needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement

  3. has repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling

  4. is restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling

  5. gambles as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)

  6. after losing money gambling, often returns another day to get even ("chasing" one's losses)

  7. lies to family members, therapist, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling

  8. has committed illegal acts such as forgery, fraud, theft, or embezzlement to finance gambling

  9. has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of gambling

  10. relies on others to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling

B.  The gambling behavior is not better accounted for by a Manic Episode.

Richard Rosenthal, M.D. & Henry Lesieur, Ph.D.

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