Can shopping become an addiction? Shopping without the ability to stop can be a form of addiction. Compulsive buying disorder is a disease. For some people, it begins as a need to have the latest item or fashion accessory. Over time, indulging in those items creates a positive feeling and compels a person to continue to engage in the activity. When it becomes uncontrolled, it may be an addiction.
A study published by the U.S. National Institutes of Health found that it has a lifetime prevalence of 5.8 percent. Those who have shopping disorders like this have a preoccupation with the process. They may have pre-purchase anxiety or tension, but they feel a sense of relief afterward. Compulsive shopping can lead to hoarding as well as unhealthy behaviors with the things purchased.
Shopping addictions can be overwhelming financially, and the person may feel as though they need to buy something because it is on sale, creating a build-up of unnecessary and often wasted items. Some people are embarrassed by these actions and develop social anxiety.
Shopping becomes an addiction when:
- A person is obsessed with the action of shopping
- There is some level of pre-purchase anxiety and a strong need to shop
- Shopping makes them feel good
Why Does Shopping Addiction Occur?
It can be difficult to understand why you feel the need to shop so frequently. For some, especially when it comes to online shopping addiction, the underlying cause may be related to being bored or because it’s a distraction from day-to-day life stressors. It can also be related to a specific event in your lifetime. Still, others shop because it brings a sense of satisfaction — something they may be lacking in other areas of their life. Shopping helps drown out negative emotions you feel for other reasons.
Over time, shopping addiction can become severe, turning into uncontrollable spending that leads to anxiety, depression, financial suffering and a lack of self-control. Without help, you may develop other mental health disorders.
Do You Have a Shopping Addiction?
It’s hard to see when shopping has gone from being about frugal decisions to being an unhealthy habit. It’s always a good idea to speak to someone, such as a therapist, about your compulsive buying habits in an open, honest way. However, this questionnaire can provide a starting point to knowing when you need to seek out help.
Answer the following questions honestly. Rate yourself in these areas carefully. If you think these things or take these actions all of the time, write that down. If you experience them just once in a while, note that. If you find yourself noting “almost always” or “all of the time” on more than two to three of these things, it may be time to speak to a therapist.
- Do you want to save money but have trouble doing so?
- Do you think about shopping very often? Do you think about needing to shop, wanting to shop, wanting to catch a bargain or looking for online deals?
- Do you buy things even if you don’t need them right now?
- If you have a bit of extra cash on hand, do you feel the need to spend it instead of saving it?
- Do you struggle with balances on your credit cards due to being unable to stop spending?
- Do you feel good when you find a good deal even when it’s not something you normally use or need at this time?
- If you become frustrated or upset, do you turn to shopping as a way to improve your mood or feel better?
- Do you engage in shopping as a way to wind down or have fun instead of hanging out with friends or family?
- Do you feel a sense of disappointment if you don’t buy something you want?
- Does more than one-third of your income go toward paying for non-expense-related debt, such as credit card bills?
- Do you have a lot of things in your home, many of which you really have no need for?
- Do you struggle to make payments on your mortgage or other debts because you’ve spent the money on other things, such as a shopping spree?
- Do you impulse buy, which may include making purchases of things just because you find them and it seems they are a good deal?
- If you can’t spend money for any reason, do you feel angry or upset? Do you feel like you have failed?
- Do you shop online a lot? For example, do you find yourself using online shopping sites just to find deals and discounts on items you do not need to have?
- Does your shopping habit lead you to other destructive behaviors such as hoarding or substance abuse?
If you have done two or three of these things with any consistency, you may be compulsive buying. While this isn’t a type of addiction that usually has health-related consequences, it can interfere with your relationships and financial health. Taking steps to get help is essential.
What Type of Help Is Available for Compulsive Buying Addiction?
Several options exist for those ready to seek out help for shopping addiction. One option is Debtors Anonymous. This is a type of 12-step treatment program aimed at helping you recognize why you shop and turn to support to stop. It tends to be an effective option if and when you can work with a counseling team to support you through the process.
How FHE Health Can Help with Shopping Addiction
If you think you have an online shopping addiction or any other type of addiction, it’s time to get help. With a debtors anonymous program or other forms of counseling, it may be possible to avoid some of the negative consequences. FHE Health treats a variety of compulsive-related conditions. Allow our team to help you.