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Pathological Gambling. Richard J. Rosenthal. Psychiatric Annals 22:2, p72-78, Feb. 1992. Pathological gambling is very similar in definition and symptoms to substance dependence. This article discusses the evolution of the DSM-IV criteria for diagnosing pathological gamblers. Various studies of pathological gamblers in treatment reveal that approximately 50 percent have histories of alcohol or drug abuse. In males, the disorder typically begins in adolescence. Females typically start gambling later in life, are more apt to be depressed, and gamble as a means of escaping the depression. It is not unusual for male gamblers to have a history of 20 to 30 years when they seek treatment, compared with three years for females.

Gender, Gambling and Problem Gambling. Joseph Hraba and Gang Lee. Journal of Gambling Studies, Vol. 12(1), p83-101, Spring, 1996. Drawing from data from a 1989 Iowa survey, the authors conclude that although women have a narrower scope of gambling activity than men, there were no differences in gambling frequency, wagering, and time spent at gambling. The genders were similar on problem gambling but differed significantly on predictors of problem gambling. Alcohol was a predominate predictor for males and estrangement from a conventional lifestyle and integration into a social world of gambling was linked to problem gambling for females.

Psychopathology in Pathological Gamblers Seeking Treatment: Gender Comparisons. Sheila M. Specker, Gregory A. Carlson, Karen M. Edmonson, Paula E. Johnson and Michael Marcotte. Journal of Gambling Studies, Vol. 12(1), p67-81, Spring, 1996. This report found high rates of Axis I psychopathology, such as depression and substance abuse/dependency, in pathological gamblers as compared to controls. Rates of affective and substance use disorders were equally high in men and women. Axis II personality disorders, such as paranoia or avoidant behaviors, were not frequent and did not differ significantly from controls. Significant rates of sexual/physical abuse were found. Pathological gambling is probably not a homogeneous disorder. Persons with psychiatric and substance abuse disorders may be at higher risk to develop pathological gambling.

Genetic Contribution to Pathological Gambling: Possible Association Between a Functional DNA Polymorphism at the Serotonin Transporter Gene (5-HTT) and Affected Men. Ignacio Perez de Castro, Angela Ibanez, Jeronimo Saiz-Ruiz and Jose Fernandez-Piqueras. Pharmacogenetics 9, 397-400, 1999. It is increasingly recognized that there is a relationship between an individual's genes and their likelihood of developing pathological gambling. Likewise, it is also becoming apparent that the relationship is complex, involving multiple genes. Genes affecting the processing of the chemical dopamine have previously been implicated; here, the researchers investigate a gene involved with serotonin. They find a significant relationship between pathological gambling and the serotonin transporter gene (5_HTT), but interestingly only in men. In a previous study, the authors found a stronger relationship with a dopamine-related gene for female pathological gamblers.

Gender Differences in Gambling Progression. Hermano Tavares, Monica L. Zilberman, Fabio J. Beites, Valentim Gentil. Journal of Gambling Studies 17:2, 2001. The authors compared 39 women and 38 men entering a Brazilian outpatient treatment program. They found that while the average age of men and women entering treatment was no different, the women had started gambling, on average, 14 years later than the men. They further estimated that the progression of pathological gambling was more than two times faster in women than in men. The more rapid progression for women is similar to that observed in other addictions.

 Gender Differences Among Pathological Gamblers Seeking Treatment. George T. Ladd and Nancy M. Petry. Environmental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 2002. Vol. 10. No 3.,302-309. This study of 115 pathological gamblers admitted to treatment found several significant differences in the gambling histories and experience of men and women. Men began gambling, began gambling regularly, tried to stop gambling, and first entered treatment at an earlier age than women, while women had fewer alcohol and legal problems. Equally important are factors that did not differ, including severity of gambling problems, gambling debt, and days and amount gambled.