Compulsive Shopping Disorder
10 Dec 2019
Shopping is a part of most cultures, but can it be a problem? When does "shopaholic" become a mental health issue?
This week we discuss Compulsive Shopping Disorder - when shopping becomes a seriously life-affecting exercise.
What is it?
Compulsive buying (shopping) disorder (CBD) or oniomania refers to an ongoing and often insatiable urge to buy things, typically resulting in adverse consequences
It is characterised by an excessive desire for acquisition and by inability to control the purchase of new objects, despite awareness of the inappropriateness of the behaviour. (Behavioural Addictions 2014)
Some common characteristics of compulsive shopping disorder may include (Very Well Mind):
preoccupation with shopping for unneeded items
spending a great deal of time doing research on items and shopping for unneeded items
vulnerability to negative emotions and to cultural influence
buying behaviour is experienced as a relief from negative emotions
experiencing financial difficulties because of uncontrolled shopping
problems at work, school or home because of uncontrolled shopping
hiding expenses from family members and friends
Is this the same as being a shop-a-holic?
Many people love shopping and get a buzz or a dopamine high from purchasing something new. Plenty of people have a tendency to spend a bit too much occasionally when they’re on a ‘spree’ but this does not mean they suffer from compulsive shopping/ buying disorder.
When do you know you might have a problem:
when you feel you’ve lost control of your shopping behaviour
when you are spending more than you can afford
when you have ongoing feelings of anxiety and or guilt about your shopping behaviour
when you shop for the ‘wrong reasons’ or as a reaction to a feeling
when you start to negatively affect your relationships due to spending or shopping too much
when the consequences of your shopping behaviour are starting to have an ongoing negative impact on your life - lost time/ finances/ reputation/ respect/ focus
What to do next?
According to Donald Black from the University of Iowa, nearly two-thirds of all shopaholics struggle with depression or anxiety. In order to effectively treat your shopping addiction, you may also need to deal with your other mental health issues. Ideally, when searching for a recovery program, you should try to find a recovery program that can address both aspects of your addiction.
Psychs- CBT - exposure therapy- NLP
Spenders/ Shoppers anonymous - support groups & online communities