Do You Have A Shopping Addiction?

shopping addiction

What’s Behind Shopping Addiction?

Do you know the line between a shopping spree and compulsive spending? Most often, compulsive behaviors stem from negative emotions and the need to cover them up.

Much like substance abuse, shopping addiction comes from a sense of need, not desire. Below is a good breakdown of not only the impetus behind compulsive spending, but also what some of the ramifications could be.

Spending addiction is often a symptom that there are negative feelings you are trying to avoid. Indulging yourself in shopping helps numb these troubling feelings, at least for a while. Every time you try to stop the pattern of compulsive spending, you may find you have to deal with distressing feelings and the panic and fear that results.

Research has shown that many compulsive shoppers and spenders also suffer from depression and other mood disorders, substance abuse, or eating disorders. As with any addiction, the person becomes dependent on the behavior to relieve negative feelings that cause them distress and discomfort.

There are many social and cultural factors that tend to increase the addictive potential of shopping and spending. The easy availability of credit and the material focus of society in general encourage people to accumulate possessions now and worry about financial responsibility later.  Society places a strong emphasis on one’s outer appearance and many media personalities promote spending money to achieve a certain look that will bring about happiness. In addition, the accessibility of purchasing has been made easier with the arrival of online shopping and television programs devoted to buying goods 24 hours a day.

The shopping and spending activity itself is associated with a feeling of happiness and power which is immediately gratifying. When you are buying, charging, ordering, you do feel better for a few minutes, but, it usually does not last long.  The after effects of remorse and guilt drive the spender back to purchase again to be able to achieve that brief but intense emotional high.

Problems Related to Compulsive Shopping and Spending

Compulsive shopping or spending may result in interpersonal, occupational, family and financial problems in one’s life. In many ways the consequences of this behavior are similar to that of any other addiction.

Impairment in relationships may occur as a result of excessive spending and efforts to cover up debt or purchases. Persons who engage in compulsive shopping or spending may become pre-occupied with that behavior and spend less and less time with important people in their lives. They may experience anxiety or depression as a result of the spending or shopping which may interfere with work or school performance.

Financial problems may occur if money is borrowed or there is excessive use of credit to make purchases. Often the extent of the financial damage is discovered only after the shopper or spender has accumulated a large debt that necessitates a drastic change in lifestyle to resolve.
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How To Know If You’re Addicted

So now the question arises: Do you like shopping, or are you addicted to it? There are some tell-tale behaviors that many people face when they fall into compulsive spending. By taking a firm, honest look at your habits, some of these symptoms might help shed some light on if your habits are healthy, or skewing into dangerous territory.

1. You have many unopened or tagged items in your closet

We’re not talking about the sweater your aunt gave you last holiday season, but about items you selected on your own that sit unopened or with their tags still attached. You likely even forgot about some of these possessions – boxes of shoes lining the bottom of your closet or jackets that have never seen the light of day.

2. You often purchase things you don’t need or didn’t plan to buy

You’re easily tempted by items that you can do without. A fifth candle for your bedroom dresser, a new iPod case, even though yours is fine…you get the idea. You’re particularly vulnerable if you’ve admitted to having an “obsession,” like shoes or designer handbags. Just because your splurges tend to stick to one category doesn’t make them any more rational.

3. An argument or frustration sparks an urge to shop

Compulsive shopping is an attempt to fill an emotional void, like loneliness, lack of control, or lack of self-confidence. Shopaholics also have a tendency to suffer from mood disorders, eating disorders, or substance abuse problems. So if you tend to binge on comfort food after a bad day, studies suggest that you may be more likely to indulge in a shopping spree too.

4. You experience a rush of excitement when you buy

Shopaholics experience a “high” or an adrenaline rush, not from owning something, but from the act of purchasing it. Experts say dopamine, a brain chemical associated with pleasure, is often released in waves as shoppers see a desirable item and consider buying it. This burst of excitement can become addictive.

5. Purchases are followed by feelings of remorse

This guilt doesn’t have to be limited to big purchases, either; compulsive shoppers are just as often attracted to deals and bargain hunting. Despite any remorse that follows, though, shopaholics are adept at rationalizing just about any purchase if challenged.

6. You try to conceal your shopping habits

If you’re hiding shopping bags in your daughter’s closet or constantly looking over your shoulder for passing co-workers as you shop online, this is a possible sign that you’re spending money at the expense of your family, your loved ones, or even your job.

7. You feel anxious on the days you don’t shop

It’s one thing to feel anxious if you haven’t had your morning cup of joe, but if you’re feeling on edge because you haven’t swiped your debit card all day, be concerned. Shopaholics have reported feeling “out of sorts” if they haven’t had their shopping fix, and have even admitted to shopping online if they couldn’t physically pull away from their day’s responsibilities.
– via The Huffington Post

Are you worried about your spending habits? How do you stack up against these 7 signs?

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