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While no one invests to lose money, some people ‘play’ the stock market as much for the excitement and thrills as for the long term financial benefits – and once you start chasing a high, things can go downhill in a hurry.

Though investing on stocks may be more socially acceptable than heading to the horse track, once investing becomes compulsive and starts to interfere with your day to day functioning you have a treatable mental disorder (problem gambling) and you will likely require some assistance to change your behaviors.

Wondering about your own behavior? What truly motivates your investing? Worried you might be in it for the dangerous thrills?

Take this quick and easy test based on information from the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling1 and the National Council on Problem Gambling2 and find out if your investing behaviors are anything to worry about.

Investment Gambling Addiction 'Self Test'

Answer the following questions based on how you’ve felt and behaved over the previous 12 months.

  1. Do you think about your trades a lot? Do you check on their status very frequently or study investment guides or financial newspapers excessively?
  2. Do you ever trade when you’re feeling depressed or anxious as a way to make yourself feel better?
  3. Do you ever feel restless or irritable when you can’t trade or can’t trade as much as you want to (such as when on vacation, without funds or when trying to stop trading?)
  4. Do you ever trade more money at one time than you can really afford to lose?
  5. Does trading sometimes make you feel really fantastic and other times make you feel really terrible (big highs and low lows…)?
  6. Have you felt like you needed to invest greater amounts of money to get the same excitement you used to get when trading with more modest sums?
  7. Have your trades become riskier over time?
  8. Do you borrow money on the margins or have highly leveraged trades?
  9. Do you engage in high volume trading for the rush of action?
  10. Do you have a hard time letting cash build up in an account without putting it in play?
  11. Do you ever avoid looking at your brokerage statements so you won’t have to think about how much you’ve lost?
  12. Have you ever borrowed money to trade (including borrowing money from credit cards)
  13. Have you ever failed to repay money you’ve borrowed to trade with?
  14. Have you ever had to borrow money from someone due to financial problems caused by your trading activities?
  15. Have you ever lied to friends or family members about your trading habits?
  16. Do you ever try to reverse investing losses by putting even greater amounts in the play as a way to change your luck (chasing your losses)?
  17. Have you ever wanted to stop or slow down your trading or have you ever tried and failed to do so?
  18. Has the time or money you’ve spent on trading ever caused you to lose or risk losing something that’s important to you, like a friend or family member, a job or another responsibility?
  19. Have you ever done anything illegal to get money to trade with, or to pay off debts related to your trading?
  20. Have people close to you ever expressed concern about the way you trade?

The more yes answers you have the greater the probability you have something to worry about.

If you’re at all worried about your behaviors you should strongly consider seeking a more formal problem gambling assessment from a mental health professional near you. Problem investment gambling is a treatable disorder and the earlier you tackle the problem the better the ultimate prognosis.

Left unchecked, problem gambling is associated with financial problems, a greater likelihood to experience other disorders like depression or anxiety, a greater likelihood to develop a substance abuse problem and a greatly increased risk of suicide.3

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Page last updated Jul 02, 2015

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