Lots of people love shopping and for most people, there is no harm in enjoying making purchases or in the occasional shopping spree. Sometimes, though, there can be too much of a good thing. Impulse buying can lead to money worries and strained relationships. If you feel like you have no choice but to shop and you can’t control your behavior, you may have a shopping addiction.
If you are always looking for the perfect item, you want to appear rich with all the latest ‘must have’ gadgets – even if you don’t have the cash to splash – you have to get sales items every time you see a sale sign because it’s a bargain, you buy every color in the set because you have to have all of them or you’re always buying and then returning items you don’t really need, then you are a shopaholic.
Shopping to cheer yourself up because you are stressed or depressed is also a form of addiction.
Signs to Look For
If you suspect your partner or family relation has a shopping addiction, there are signs to look out for. These are:
- They are spending more than they can afford.
- They shop as a reaction to an argument.
- They shop to ease the guilt of a previous shop.
- They are invasive about how much they spent.
- They are hiding credit card bills or purchases that they bought.
- There is less money in the bank, causing financial difficulty when the income should be enough.
In severe cases, couples affected by shopping addiction may have to re-mortgage their home to pay for debts and relationship difficulties can ensue. Financial problems are a major reason for getting a divorce.
Why Do People Become Addicted to Shopping?
Shopping can have a similar effect to cigarette smoking. As people shop, their brains release endorphins (a ‘feel good’ painkiller more powerful than morphine) and dopamine, a neurotransmitter that creates pleasure sensations. The combination of the two can leave the shopper craving for more. Around 10-15% of the population are pre-disposed to an addictive reaction.
People who are addicted to shopping may have the type of brain chemistry that also pre-disposes them to drug addiction and other forms of compulsive behavior so it is fairly common to have a duel-diagnosis going on people struggling with out of control shopping habits.
Those with depression can use shopping to fill a void and as a means to feel good, but these feelings are related to chemical messengers and are always short-lived. This is why the shopaholic has an urge to return for more items. Luckily, treatments that are used for anxiety disorders and other mental health problems could provide an effective solution.
What Help is Available?
There isn’t a specific drug treatment for shopping addiction, although some people have had success with anti-anxiety medications that may reduce the need to shop in depressed or stressed individuals. It’s no coincidence that nearly two thirds of all shopaholics have depression or an anxiety disorder. antidepressants can also achieve a positive effect – however, they have side-effects to consider, such as insomnia, nausea, fatigue, headaches, sweating and paradoxically, anxiety. Any treatment should only be under a doctor’s guidance.
The Annals of Clinical Psychiatry reported that a drug developed for Alzheimer’s Disease may be of benefit to shopaholics to help them think more clearly and weigh up consequences before they buy.
If you or a loved one are addicted to shopping and you also have depression or another addiction, you may be able to get help through a recovery and rehabilitation program.
You can also call a counselor on 1-888-481-5639.
For more information, see ‘Shopping Addiction Symptoms, Causes and Effects.’