What is Shopping Addiction? 9 Warning Signs

You may have heard the term "shopaholic," a cute play on the verb "shop" and "alcoholic." The concept is simple: when someone loves shopping so much they feel somewhat addicted. You may have even used the term to describe yourself before.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, compulsive buying is no joke. In fact, maladaptive spending behavior is associated with serious social, psychological, and occupational problems. The issue affects much more than just a person's pocketbook.

So what is a shopping addiction? After all, everyone needs to shop, right?

Good question. A shopping addiction goes beyond the freeing feeling that comes from buying the things you need. It is a preoccupation with spending, accompanied by episodes of irresistible purchasing. Think of it this way: if you spend money with strong emotions rather than logic, you might have a problem.

The good news is you can catch compulsive behavior early and reverse the trend. Here are 9 warning signs to watch for in your own life.

  • When you're depressed, your thoughts turn to shopping. "Perhaps just a quick outing will help," you tell yourself.
  • When you're shopping, you feel like you're on a high.
  • You buy things you definitely do not need.
  • You lie to others about how much time or money you spend on shopping.
  • When you can't shop for whatever reason, you feel angry and caged in.
  • You say to yourself, "I should stop this," or "This is my last purchase before I commit to better decisions."
  • You spend money to ease the guilt of having already spent too much.
  • You and your loved ones fight about your purchases.
  • Sometimes, you buy things that you never even use or wear.

Furthermore, over sixty percent of compulsive shoppers also deal with anxiety or depression, according to Dr. Donald Black, a University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine professor. So the cycle begins – you feel down, and shopping helps. But the guilt quickly follows, and on its heels discouragement, anxiety, and depression. An addict's go-to medicine is shopping, which starts the sequence all over again.

If the pattern sounds familiar to you, tell someone right away. The momentary rush of good feelings that accompanies a spending spree isn't worth the havoc it wreaks on relationships.

The best thing to do is to phone one of our region's board-certified psychiatrists who can shine a light on why you do the things you do. Shopping might be fun, but there's no better feeling than that of being on the road to freedom.

Image Source: Flickr

Return to Blog Posts