The Psychology of Shopping Addiction

Psychology of a Shoppers Addiction & non stop spending sprees!

Everyone enjoys shopping to some extent, especially if it’s for some items for pleasure that we have desired for some time. Everyone has to shop at some point, especially if it’s for essential items such as food and clothing. But for some, shopping can become an addiction. They can become dependent on it and do it far more often than is healthy, both for themselves and for their bank accounts. Shopping addiction is very real and can have profound effects on people’s livelihoods. What is shopping addiction, what causes it and what can be done to stop it?

You will have probably felt a sense of euphoria yourself when you have shopped for a great number of items and handed over the money for them, either physically or electronically. The acquisition of goods always leads to a sense of satisfaction and delight. But what happens when that sense of satisfaction becomes ever greater, the person becomes more dependent on it and the amount of money spent to maintain it grows ever higher as a result?

Someone who is addicted to shopping will, like any addict, continue to do it even when the evidence that it is against their best interests is staring them in the face. Personal relationships and financial situations can be negatively affected. Yet the shopper continues to spend money on items they don’t need, and the thought of controlling their spending or stopping altogether seems impossible.

There are various types of shopaholics. These include compulsive shopaholics who shop due to feelings of stress or anxiety, shopaholics who aspire to be seen buying attractive and expensive items and collectors who must have every piece of a particular set or every item in a specific colour.

What causes compulsive shopping, also known as shopping addiction? Most are psychological and not through any physical need for the items being bought. Often the shopper will be experiencing a sense of loneliness, be suffering from depression, feel as though they have lost control of some aspect of their life and see spending money as a means of relaxation and a solution to the stress.

The shopping becomes a means of blocking out the negative emotions but it never lasts for long, hence the need to repeat the process over again. The shopper may also have a feeling of emptiness inside them and their excessive shopping is an attempt to fill that void. They may also seek a sense of excitement and adventure and purchasing new goods may appear to be an effective means of obtaining that. Certain psychological conditions are commonly associated with shopping addiction include emotional deprivation during the shopper’s childhood, the inability to handle feelings of negativity and the need to assert control over themselves.

While the short-term effects of shopping addiction may be positive; they may give a sense of euphoria, peace, security or a sense of excitement and daring, the longer-term effects can be much more negative. Once the shopping is complete, a sense of guilt or anxiety may descend on the shopper. Sometimes, this may even send them back to the shop for another spending spree.

As time progresses and the addiction remains untreated, financial problems may arise such as a lack of money to hand and the accumulation of debt. Some shoppers may simply max out their credit cards but in more severe cases they may resort to taking out a second mortgage on their home or transfer the charging of their purchases to a business credit card if they have one.

Guilt arising from their addiction may lead the shopper to hide their receipts, shopping bags and credit card bills, thus compelling them to lie to their loved ones. Discovery may lead to a breakdown in their personal relationships and sometimes even to divorce. Sometimes the shopper may tell half-truths; for example, they may admit to going shopping but will conceal the true amount they have spent.

If you feel you may be a shopaholic, you should ask yourself some of the following questions: Do you tend to shop when you feel anger or disappointment? Does your need to shop result in fallings out between you and your loved ones? Do you feel euphoric or anxious when you shop? After you have finished shopping, do you feel as though you have done something you shouldn’t have?

Do you ever feel guilt or embarrassment after you have finished shopping? Do you regularly buy things that you never use and quickly forget you have? If you answer yes to these, it could well be that you have a shopping addiction.

If you are addicted to shopping, what should you do about it? Many shopaholics have been able to address their addiction without the need for medication or specific treatments. To reduce your temptations, you may wish to invite a friend to accompany you and keep an eye on you. You may make a list of the specific items you need to buy before you set out for the shop and do not deviate from it. If you are alone in the shop and you pick something up, ask yourself if you really need to buy it or if you just want it.

Other shopaholics have reported that antianxiety medications and anti-depressants have proven to be useful in helping them to curb their addictive needs, although no specific medication has been identified as being especially useful in helping to combat shopping addiction. Others have found help and support in the form of counselling and other therapies.

Shopping can be fun and fulfilling. But it is important not to let it rule our lives for whatever reason. Everyone overspends every so often, but when this becomes a more regular occurrence it may be time for you to seek support. Your friends and family will be on hand to help in whatever way they can and certain medications can help to curb your addictive personality.


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