Knowing if you’re addicted to shopping is a difficult process if you don’t know enough about the disorder. In general, when there are addictions, the patient is often the last to realize the actions that result from their behavior.
Shopping addiction is the compulsive form of purchasing goods and services. The most common purchases are typical products of consumerism that don’t have much use (and that advertising tells us are a “necessity”).
It’s normal to need to shop for everyday logical needs. However, if you develop an addiction to it, you lose control over your shopping needs. Moreover, it can be frustrating when you can’t have what you want, and cause some subsequent guilt over the actual purchase.
Although there’s talk of a modern consumer society with a tendency to spend on the superfluous, not all people are susceptible to the development of this behavior. People with a compulsive personality or with low self-esteem are more likely to be susceptible.
What does a shopping addict look like?
Anyone can be addicted to shopping, although one particular profile is more likely to have the disorder more than others. Generally speaking, she’s usually a young woman with easy access to the Internet.
According to global estimates in developed countries, women tend to have this problem more than men, in a higher proportion. They also spend more time choosing the product and not buying the first thing they see, which is more common among men.
The age of these addicts ranges from 20 to 65, mostly. Older people, on the contrary, seem to reduce their buying habits and are a little more frugal.
The Internet has meant a change and a resounding explosion of the phenomenon of shopping addiction. The ease of accessing virtual stores full of products, offers, promotions, and free shipping has boosted compulsion.
While there are shopping addicts in physical and traditional stores, online shopping is the norm for those with this disorder. This also ensures certain anonymity, which avoids the shame of regularly attending a certain place and being caught.
Signs that you’re addicted to shopping
There are a number of signs, signals, and behaviors that can alert you to shopping addiction. Here are some of them:
- Having an uncontrollable desire to buy: Shopping addiction is a compulsion. The person wants to have a new product no matter what and as quickly as possible. This results in anxiety symptoms that we can identify when we have them.
- Loss of control: A feature of all addictions is the patient’s difficulty in controlling. When they can’t stop spending or buy a lot of items, this shows that you’re a shopping addict.
- The habit intrudes in other aspects of life: Another sign of addiction is that it affects various parts of the person’s life. It doesn’t just affect one aspect, but it affects family, work, and social life.
- Being frustrated by not being able to shop: When you become nervous, anxious, and irritable because you couldn’t buy what you want, you may be showing obvious signs of shopping addiction. It’s normal for you to worry a little about not getting something you wanted. But if you worry too much, then it may be pathological.
Treating a shopping addict
It’s an addiction and, as such, therapy requires a psychological approach. The use of medication may be necessary if there are very strong signs of anxiety or depression, for which a psychiatrist may intervene with certain drugs.
As for psychotherapy, relaxation and behavior modification techniques are preferred. The aim is to increase control over the momentum and avoid situations that may favor compulsive purchasing.
Sometimes, through cognitive therapy, the patient and doctor discover the origin of the addiction. This requires the affected person to be aware of his or her disorder and learn to keep a record of what he or she spends and the feelings he or she goes through each time they shop.
In terms of behavior modification, the involvement of third parties to assist in treatment is key. Shopping addicts can also hire a purchasing tutor who manages their money, and who advises them on which items are considered necessary and which are superfluous.
Being addicted to shopping is no joke
While it may seem like a joke (and most people do spend money on non-essential items nowadays), we need to understand that addiction to shopping is a psychological disorder. As such, it deserves attention and treatment.