Shopping Addiction - Say No To Retail Therapy

by Sam Malone

Shopping is something that everyone indulges in from time to time. It can either be a tedious chore or a pleasure depending on what we are shopping for. Many men would consider shopping for groceries to be a tedious chore, best left to their wives. Shopping for a new car on the other hand or a new home theater system is another thing altogether! Sheer unadulterated pleasure! All of us have felt the joy of buying and subsequently owning something we have long sought after. It gives us something akin to a high, a heady feeling of accomplishment, of a goal accomplished. Such is the feeling that many people swear by what is popularly known as ‘retail therapy’ as a cure for feeling low or depressed.

So when does regular shopping degenerate into shopping addiction? Where do you draw the line?

There are no fixed criteria by which a person can be labeled a shopping addict or shopaholic. Rather, signs of shopping addiction can be noticed in a person’s behavior. Some of these signs include:

  • Shopping whenever one feels depressed or anxious
  • Compulsive shopping
  • Buying things on an impulse
  • Buying things that one does not need or even like
  • Buying something just for like that
  • Buying something and then never using it
  • Being obsessed with acquiring something and then losing interest in it once it has been acquired
  • Buying things one cannot afford
  • Running up huge amounts of credit card debt
  • Being fiscally irresponsible
  • Going shopping with the intention of buying something specific and ending up buying a whole lot of other stuff
  • Lying to family and friends about purchases
  • Fighting with family members over expenses

The causes of shopping addiction are varied with many socio-economic and psychological factors playing an important role. Living in a culture that stresses on material wealth as a measure of success can exacerbate the problem. People with low self-esteem or low self-worth are also vulnerable. Many people with other addictions such as drug addiction or sex addiction may turn to shopping as a way to compensate.

Whatever the underlying cause, many compulsive shopaholics need professional help to regain control over their spending habits. Treatments for shopping addiction usually require therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). These can take up to 1 year to be effective. Certain medications such as anti-depressants or anti-anxiety drugs may also help.

If you feel that you are a shopaholic seek help from a professional who can help you to get to the root of the problem.

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