Ketaki Badhire

MSc in Biochemistry having close to 5 years of experience in the Pharmaceutical industry. A passionate writer, ardent art lover and astute observer on a quest for answers and insights from every experience life offers.

Does Shopping Addiction Qualify for a Real Disorder?

27 August 2021

How many times have you indulged in a bit of frivolous shopping just to feel better or uplift your mood after a long hard day? Quite sometimes, right?!

Research suggests that as many as one in 25 people in developed countries may suffer from shopping addiction (Oniomania or compulsive buying disorder, as it’s more formally known), yet it is often not taken seriously. People often don’t see any harm in pampering themselves a bit with “retail therapy” to cheer up when they have had a bad day.

Compulsive shopping is perhaps the most socially acceptable addiction. We are surrounded by advertisements that tells us that buying will make us happy. We are encouraged by major retail companies and brand`s to spend more and more, so as to contribute to boost our economy. And for some of us owning things is a tantalizing glimpse of wealth and status.

Shopping addiction is a behavioural addiction that involves compulsive buying as a way to feel good and avoid negative feelings, such as anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. Like other behavioural addictions, shopping addiction can soon become an obsession that leads to problems in other areas of your life.

Shopping addiction often co-occurs with other disorders, including mood swings and anxiety disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders and personality disorders. Some people develop shopping addiction as a way to try and boost their self-esteem and cope with daily life stress.

Important Things to Know About Shopping Disorder

· Shopping addiction is usually a way of coping with the emotional pain, anxiety and escaping from life problems.

· Shopping addiction is not yet considered as a real addiction by experts and general public and hence remains a topic of discussion.

· People who struggle with shopping addiction typically spend more time and money on shopping than they can afford, thus getting into financial problems as a result of their overspending.

· Shopping addiction can involve both impulsive and compulsive spending, which gives a temporary high. But addictive shoppers often end up feeling unhappy and unsatisfied with the purchases they have made.

What is the Difference Between Compulsive and Impulsive Shopping?

Impulsive shopping: is an unplanned purchase that happens on the spur of the moment in reaction to the desire to have something you see in a shop or having discovered discount on your favourite items.

Compulsive shopping:is a pre-planned purchase to overcome or escape some negative feelings or problems you’re facing in life.

Having said this, both impulsive and compulsive shopping patterns have been observed in addictive shoppers.

How to Determine if It`s Normal Shopping or an Addiction?

What sets shopping addiction apart from other types of shopping is that the compulsive shopping behaviour becomes the person’s main way of coping with stress, to the extent where they continue to shop unreasonably even when it is clearly having a negative impact on other aspects of their life.

Despite having financial problems, people with shopping addiction (also called "shopaholics") feel unable to control the urge to continue spending.

This difficulty in controlling the desire to shop emerges from a personality pattern that these shopaholics share, which differentiates them from other shoppers. Often low in self-esteem, they are easily influenced, and are often sympathetic and polite to others, although they are lonely and isolated. Shopping gives them an opportunity to interact with others.

People with shopping addiction tend to be more materialistic compared to other shoppers and often try to impress others with their status. As a result, they are more susceptible to marketingand advertising strategies that surround us on a daily basis.

While the very purpose of advertising, is to influence the buyers purchasing choices, certain marketing tricks and gimmicks are designed to trigger impulse buying and specifically target the impulsive nature of people with a shopping addiction.

Although most of the times a new purchase can actually solve a problem, but the things that shopaholic’s buy when they are engaging in retail therapy are unnecessary and the subsequent financial cost may actually reduce resources for solving other life problems.

Is Compulsive Shopping Addiction Considered a Real Disorder?

Like other behavioural adiction, compulsive shopping addiction is still a controversial idea. Many experts do not accept the idea that excessive spending is an addiction. There is on-going debate as to what the disorder should be called or how it should be classified.

The most commonly used manuals for diagnosing mental disorders are the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders) and ICD (the International Classification for Diseases), and neither include diagnostic criteria for compulsive buying disorder.

Although the addictive shopping disorder has not yet been clearly defined by a name, symptoms or even category of mental health problem, most researchers agree on one thing that, it is a real condition that people truly suffer from and combating this condition can be difficult.

How to Cope with Shopping Addiction?

· Overcoming any addiction requires learning alternative ways of handling the stress and distress of everyday life.

· Keeping a close relative or trustworthy person in charge of your finances may help.

· Consulting a therapist will help in understanding the symptoms and causes better.

· Depending on how serious your shopping addiction is, you may also find it helpful to get financial counselling.

· Consult your bank to discuss options for restricting your access to easy spending.

 

Shopping addiction just like any other addiction can be troublesome and bothering. But there is hope, with right amount of determination and support from those around you this problem can be tackled.

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