Top 10 Myths About Day Trading Addiction

Day trading and investing in assets such as stocks, Forex, cryptocurrency and other such financial instruments continues to grow exceedingly popular among retail investors.  While day trading among the average retail investor can be an enjoyable recreational activity and source of revenue, some individuals spend an exorbitant amount of time, energy and resources in the marketplace which can ultimately lead to problematic investing or a day trading addiction.  With a growing number of individuals facing a day trading addiction it is important to be cognizant of myths that exist about the growing trend.


10 Day Trading Addiction Myths

  1. You cannot become addicted to day trading

When individuals think of addiction, they generally do not think of day trading.  Day trading is often viewed as a socially acceptable behavior, and one that takes skill among financially savvy individuals.  The myth that an individual cannot become addicted to day trading is usually thrown around by people who do not understand the neurobiology of addiction and assume that people with a day trading problem are able to moderate their behavior surrounding trading if they choose to.  The truth is that individuals can become addicted to day trading much in the same way they can become addicted to gambling, or even alcohol and drugs.  When an individual is in a profitable trade they receive a rush of dopamine, bringing about a feeling of pleasure.  Over time, individuals who regularly trade can develop a dependency to trading in order to induce excitement and pleasure in their lives as it hijacks the brain’s reward system.  As such, individuals may continue to trade despite financial loss and other significant consequences.

  1. Day trading addiction is a choice

While controversial, addiction experts do not view addiction as a choice or a matter of willpower.  Rather, addiction is widely viewed as a brain disease that takes choice away once an individual has developed the addiction.  While choosing to trade may be a choice in the beginning, over time an addicted individual develops a pathological obsession and compulsion to trade, and rational thought is stripped away.  With a day trading addiction, the brain becomes conditioned to want to trade financial instruments for excitement, euphoria, and wellbeing.  Furthermore, there are also psychological, genetic, and social factors that contribute to someone developing a day trading addiction.  For example, underlying mental health issues or a history of gambling in their family may make them more at risk for developing a day trading addiction.

  1. Day trading addiction is not a real addiction

Some people do not view day trading as something that one can become addicted to.  Contrary to this belief, some individuals who engage in regular trading experience a pathological compulsion and obsession to engage in trading despite adverse consequences to their lives.  Trading and trading-related behavior such as conducting market research becomes the primary activity of daily life, and the individual feels an uncontrollable urge to continue trading and engage in trading-related activities despite adverse effects.  Day trading can be just as addictive as other forms of gambling, as well as other behavioral addictions such as sex addiction, video game addiction, social media addiction, or shopping addiction.

  1. Day trading is different than gambling

Casino games and other forms of gambling are often stigmatized while day trading is not.  Rather, day trading is regularly viewed as socially acceptable.  Despite the common belief that day trading is different than other forms of gambling such as blackjack, lottery games, sports betting, etc., day trading is very similar to gambling from a behavioral health perspective, and is viewed as a subtype of a gambling disorder among most addiction experts.  Arguments can be made that unlike gamblers, traders can control their own odds and manage their own risk; however, the same can be said for casino games such as poker where players often feel that they have more control over the outcome of the game.  Despite such notions, both gambling and trading involve risk and unpredictability with hopes of making a profit, and while day trading can involve an incredible amount of skill and financial savviness, at the end of the day when an individual trades a financial instrument they are placing a bet and taking a gamble.

  1. Day trading is only a problem when a trader loses money

While individuals who get help for a day trading addiction usually do so after significant financial loss, day trading addiction is about more than money and the trading itself.  Day traders spend an exorbitant amount of time, energy, and resources researching their trades of choice.  This involves constant price checking, chart analysis, reviewing macroeconomic data, and reading financial news or social forums among other speculative measures.  Such activities end up overtaking the individuals life and suffocates them, resulting in mental health issues, career problems, inability to perform daily responsibilities, and sleep troubles among many other consequences.  Family members and other loved ones are often the first to notice a change and deterioration in the addicted individual, and the addiction can place significant strain on family relationships.  As such, day trading can be a problem that goes well beyond mere financial loss.

  1. Day trading addiction is not as serious as a drug addiction

Severity of an addiction is subjective, and is ultimately about the suffering that occurs for the addicted individual and their loved one.  There is a saying that goes, the worst addiction is the one you’re addicted to. As such, comparing addictions is futile.  Drug addiction is often looked at as more severe than other addictions due to overdose and its lethality.   While it is true that drugs kill individuals at an exorbitant rate, it should also be acknowledged that day trading addiction can lead to thoughts of self-harm and ultimately suicide.  Day trading addiction is considered a sub-type of a gambling addiction, and of all the various forms of addiction that exist, gambling addiction has the highest rates of suicide.  As such, the severity of a day trading addiction should not be viewed as nonsequential. 

  1. If you can stop day trading you don’t have a problem

While being able to stop or moderate your trading can be a sign that you don’t have a day trading addiction, it also does not automatically mean that you don’t have a problem with day trading.  Studies show that approximately 90% of individuals with a gambling addiction who stop end up relapsing.  While there is minimal data on relapse rates specific to day trading addiction, relapse rates may be comparable given that day trading addiction is a sub-type of a gambling addiction with many similarities.  As such, a person who stops trading is always at risk of relapse, especially without proper support and guidance.  Furthermore, one may be able to stop day trading but still have obsessive thoughts surrounding trading, or their trading may have contributed to underlying issues such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, sleep issues, problems surrounding interpersonal relationships, career, finances, and other such life areas.  As such, being able to stop day trading does not necessarily mean that there is not a problem that needs to be addressed.

  1. Relapse is a sign of failed recovery

When an individual faces a day trading addiction they may work towards moderating their trading, but will oftentimes recognize the importance for complete abstention from trading.  In either case of moderation or abstention, many end up relapsing as evidenced by studies reflecting a 90% relapse rate among individuals with a gambling addiction.  Despite the belief that relapse is a sign of failure, it is important to recognize that recovery is not linear and that much can be learned from evaluating a relapse in order to maintain future abstinence.  Furthermore, it is important to have an understanding of addiction in that it is not something that can be cured, but rather is something that can be successfully managed with ongoing work, and if needed, professional assistance from day trading specialists or therapists.

  1. You must hit rock bottom to stop a day trading addiction

While facing consequences is an important catalyst for recovering from a day trading addiction, there is no evidence to demonstrate that an individual needs to hit rock bottom or have extremely severe consequences to stop trading.  Individuals often get help for their day trading addiction after an intervention from loved ones, well before they would otherwise attempt to stop trading.  Individuals who get help as a result of an intervention can have successful outcomes at comparable rates to those who choose to get help on their own.

  1. If you have a day trading addiction you have to get help in a 12-step program

While many individuals with a day trading addiction recover solely by going to a twelve-step program such as Gamblers Anonymous, there are many other pathways to recovery.  Many individuals take issue with the philosophy of the twelve-steps, and that is perfectly fine.  However, the twelve-step approach is a worthwhile pathway to recovery that should be given a fair chance with an open mind.  Nonetheless, there are many other great support groups that exist such as SMART Recovery and Refuge Recovery.  Many may also find recovery through non-conventional methods such as exercise programs like yoga or running, nutritional therapy, acupuncture, hypnosis, meditation, or music therapy among many other alternative treatments.  Individuals may also choose to seek out professional help in the form of group counseling for day trading addiction or one-on-one guidance from a day trading addiction specialist, day trading addiction recovery coach, or therapist who specializes in day trading addiction.   

For more information on day trading addiction treatment and to find the best day trading addiction therapist, or for general therapy and mental health, or to inquire about Family Addiction Specialist’s private concierge sober coach Manhattan, recovery coach Manhattan, sober companion Manhattan, Manhattan addiction therapy services and/or our Manhattan teletherapy services (online therapy/virtual therapy), as well as Manhattan addiction services in New York City specific to day trading addiction, cryptocurrency addiction, video game addiction, or other forms of digital addiction as well as alcohol addiction or drug addiction please contact Family Addiction Specialist today at  Family Addiction Specialist has an undisclosed office location in the Upper East Side of New York City and also services clients worldwide.

Lin Sternlicht & Aaron Sternlicht

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