For some people, resisting the new shoes or nice sweater on sale just is not possible. I know personally every time I start browsing the internet I end up on Forever21’s website with a cart full of clothing. A shopaholic is defined as “someone who shops compulsively and who may feel like they have no control over their behavior.” I have heard this time numerous times in my life time, although it is generally referred to in a joke matter. Is it possible to be an actual shopaholic?
Shopaholics are real and they come in all different types of forms, according to psychguiedes.com. The different types are as followed:
- Compulsive shoppers– they venture out to the stores when they’re feeling some sort emotional distress
- Trophy seekers– they are after a very specific product and don’t stop until they find the perfect thing
- The “Big Spender”– looking for expensive/flashy items
- Bargain shoppers– buying things you don’t need just because there’s a sale
- The shopper who buys things just to return them
In an observational study done at Indiana University, they looked at how the brain functioned while certain people shopped. As shoppers bought more and more, their brain’s released endorphins and dopamine. While this could be by chance, it is believed that the feeling caused by the release of endorphins and dopamine is addictive. In other words, it is the way your brain feels while shopping that causes the addiction. According to Professor Ruth Engs, 10-15% of people have this feelings. According to Donald Black from the University of Iowa , “nearly two-thirds of all shopaholics struggle with depression or anxiety.” This made me question the difference between an anxiety disorder and a shopaholic and whether or not the two were the same thing. While bother show similar behavior, shopaholics display unique behaviors as follow:
- Spending more money than they have
- Angry or sad shopping
- Spending habits are putting relationships at risk
- Can’t control spending habits
- Lying about how much they spent
- Hiding evidence of shopping (bills or receipts)
Most people report the short term shopping addiction effects to be positive since the initial rush of a shopping spree is what triggers an addiction. The long term affects are what tends to be the problem when it comes to shopping problems. The severity of shopping problems can vary obviously. While some people just max out credit cards or spend their money, others end up taking second mortgages out on their house. No matter what the case is, it will definitely have an effect on not only your life, but the life others and relationships you hold with them. According to experts, such behavior can even lead to divorce. While this disease by not sound that serious, the Chicago Tribune found that many people with shopping problems actually suffer from withdrawal symptoms comparable to drug addicts. This includes feelings of irritability, anger, and depression. In a study done by MSN Money, they were looking for a drug that could treat those with shopping problems. While these researches have not found anything to treat the problem directly, ABC News did a report on a drug called memantine, which was developed by Annals of Clinical Psychiatry. This drug was originally designed to treat Alzheimer’s, but was thought to be able to help with the compulsive behavior shopaholics generally have.
The correlation between those with anxiety and shopping problems is strong. While forms of anxiety may not be proven as the cause of a shopping addiction, there are studies showing they correlate. In an experimental study done with a controlled group, a huge improvement was seen those who were given an anti-anxiety medication versus those who were not when it came to spending habits. All the effects of the drugs are still being analyzed, but a few side effects showed the following:
What’s the conclusion?
Being a shopaholic is a real disease. While it correlates strongly to those with anxiety disorders, there are distinct differences between the two. It is unknown whether or not anti-anxiety medication is the best treatment for this problem or not, but it a problem that is definitely underestimated.
Just because you enjoy a shopping spree every once in a while doesn’t necessarily mean you are a shopaholic, but if you find yourself experiencing out of control behavior, it may be a problem. If you take a look through your closet at there are multiple items that still have the tag on them, it may be time to get some help. The best advice for most shopaholics is to try new things, like running, movie watching, or crafting. Look for what triggers your shopping escapades and do NOT do that. Whether it is stress at work or an argument with a loved one, resist the urge. Do not go to the mall unless it is necessary and avoid going on the computer to online shop. Instead focus on your newly founded hobby and enjoy life with more money and less stress!