Pathological gambling: Comorbid psychiatric diagnoses in patients and their families

Pinhas N. Dannon, Katherine Lowengrub, Anat Aizer, Moshe Kotler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: Pathological gambling is a highly prevalent and disabling impulse control disorder. Recent studies have consistently demonstrated that pathological gamblers respond well to treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, mood stabilizers and opioid antagonists. These findings have supported the observation that pathological gambling is associated with anxiety and mood spectrum disorders as well as addictive disorders. Methods: Fifty-two male pathological gamblers and their first-degree relatives (n=93) completed a semi-structured DSM-IV-based diagnostic interview as well as a series of data collection instruments including the South Oaks Gambling Scale, the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, the Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety, the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale, and the Young Mania Rating Scale. The study subjects and their first-degree relative were compared to demographically matched normal controls (n=96). Results We found higher prevalence of alcohol, substance abuse, problematic gambling, depression, and anxiety disorders in the pathological gamblers and their first-degree relatives than in the control group. In particular, the scores on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, the Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety, and the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale were higher in the study group than in the control group. Conclusions: Our finding of a high prevalence of psychiatric comorbidity in pathological gamblers and their families raises the question of the proper classification of pathological gambling in the DSM-IV. Furthermore, the pattern of psychiatric disorders seen in the first-degree relatives can lead to new insights about the etiopathology of pathological gambling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-92
Number of pages5
JournalIsrael Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences
Volume43
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2006

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