5 Signs You Have A Shopping Addiction (& How To Fix This Very Real Problem)

Shopping addiction, referred to as oniomania in medical terms, can be defined as the irresistible urge to shop. A direct fallout of widespread and increasingly rising consumerism and manufacturers vying for the attention of their target audience through advertisements, being addicted to shopping is becoming increasingly more common. So much so that it becomes a medical disorder.

The glamour and the jhamak-dhamak everywhere around create a crippling obsession to shop, till it develops into a psychiatric disorder, triggered due to various factors like stress, the pursuit of self-perfection, and hankering for new possessions, among others. These triggers vary among shopping addicts. Don’t equate love for shopping with a shopping addiction. Although they have the same roots, shopping addiction happens when shopping has developed into a psychological disorder, unlike the former. 

Now that you’ve understood compulsive shopping meaning, let’s go deeper into discussing its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, preventive tips, et al. 

6 Different Types Of Shopping Addiction

1. Compulsive Buying Disorder

Compulsive Buying Disorder (CBD) is triggered due to emotional distress. It can sprout from feelings of insecurity, stress, anger, anxiety, and similar emotional triggers. In such situations, shopping feels like the only escape from the rut.

2. Shopaholics

People who are medically defined as shopaholics love to flaunt the image of being a big spender. Shopping helps them portray that image, while they are shopping as well as when they get to display the items they’ve shopped for. This is an opportunity for them to grab attention by wearing and carrying flashy items. 

3. Trophy Shopaholics

These shopaholics are defined by their endless pursuit of perfection in the things they purchase. They put a lot of thought and effort into each of their purchases. They mix and match every outfit to every accessory they buy, every decor item to the wall colour and linen that will be used in the room, and so on.

4. Bargain Seekers

Shopping addicts of this category find themselves obsessing over stealing deals during a sale, even purchasing items they do not need. Most impulse buys eventually end up being unnecessary purchases. They are either not of the required size or not the right fit for individual preferences. 

5. Collectors

Here, the unexplained shopping addiction extends to feelings of incompleteness, unless one possesses every piece in a set or every colour available in a collection. The aim is to possess every item from every collection, every available colour of every item, and every design available in every colour and collection. In short, a shopping addict in this category can easily be called a hoarder.

6. Bulimic Shoppers

Bulimic shoppers find themselves getting caught in a vicious cycle of purchasing and returning. They purchase items they feel are indispensable to them, which in reality it is not, and then end up returning them as soon as reality dawns upon them.

Causes Of A Shopping Addiction

The causes of compulsive shopping are not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to a combination of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors. Some of the potential causes include:

1. Genetic Factors

Studies have suggested that there may be a genetic component to shopping addiction. Individuals with a family history of addiction or impulse control disorders may be at a higher risk of developing a shopping addiction.

2. Psychological Factors

Certain mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD, can lead to shopping addiction. Shopping may serve as a way for individuals to cope with difficult emotions or to distract themselves from stressors.

3. Environmental Factors

Exposure to a culture that values material possessions and consumerism may increase the risk of developing a shopping addiction. Additionally, certain life events, such as a major loss or change, may trigger an addiction to shopping.

5 Signs You Have A Shopping Addiction

1. Low Self-Esteem

Shopping addiction may get triggered during stressful situations or when one is feeling particularly low. For instance, after a long, challenging day at work, after a breakup, and similar other situations. Shopping, in such cases, feels like the only pick-me-up, an escape from feeling low, the sole solution for tackling literally every problem in life. Common among people suffering from anxiety and depression, they resort to compulsive shopping as the easiest way to feel good rather than treating their depleting mental health from its roots.

2. The Only Way To Feel Normal

For shopping addicts, shopping may feel as indispensable as basic needs like breathing, drinking water, eating, and sleeping. It feels like the only way to stay alive, lead a normal life, and feel normal. The low self-esteem has snowballed into a far more serious health concern with far-reaching side effects. It has developed to become the sole way out from experiencing withdrawal cycles. Without shopping every time there is an urge, life feels futile. 

3. Inability To Stop Shopping

Old habits die hard, and even new ones. When an individual discovers the magical change that shopping introduces in their lives, there is no looking back. The undefinable happiness and immediate gratification is so immense that it becomes a habit that feels impossible to overcome. It goes beyond shopping for necessary items and a little bit of luxury, and encompasses compulsive shopping for everything that one can lay their hands on. This, in turn, increases the number of returns and exchanges, and a bit more shopping in the meantime, and the cycle continues. 

4. Think Shopping, Dream Shopping

When the sole object of desire and aspiration is shopping, it is bound to become an addiction. The only thing that one wants to do is obsess over purchasing. Reading up on and researching over the newest trends online, reading reviews, comparing prices, and adding all the favourite ones to the cart. Hence, an online shopping addiction becomes a reality. The same translates to an offline shopping experience as well – picking up everything that is on display. This is again followed by returns and exchanges on realising that certain items aren’t suitable or aren’t aligned with one’s preferences. 

5. Overlooking Wellbeing For Shopping

When shopping occupies such an important part of life that it proceeds over self-care and well-being, it disrupts a normal, balanced way of life. Overspending, shopping in secret, and lying to cover it up, all become an integral part of life. This inevitably breeds an unhealthy relationship with shopping, leading to cutting oneself away from a healthy lifestyle. 

5 Common Causes & Symptoms Of Compulsive Buying Disorder

  1. A therapist or psychiatrist would be able to diagnose the medical condition, based on the symptoms you’re experiencing.
  2. He/she is likely to enquire about influences and other behavioural patterns.
  3. The healthcare professional will recommend a shopping addiction treatment plan according to your symptoms, risk factors, and any other underlying mental health condition.
  4. The healthcare professional may use a diagnostic tool known as the Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale that measures seven essential criteria like mood modification, conflict, problems, relapse, tolerance, salience, and withdrawal. 
  5. A combination of psychiatrist and therapist may become necessary if the addiction is severe.
  6. The treatment aims to break the addictive chain, forge healthy thinking and life habits, and help the patient gain a healthy and holistic perspective towards life. 

5 Adverse Effects Of Shopping Addiction

Shopping addiction can have a number of negative effects on an individual’s life. Some of the most common ill effects include:

1. Financial Problems

Shopping addiction can lead to excessive spending, which can result in financial difficulties such as debt, difficulty paying bills, and even bankruptcy.

2. Relationship Difficulties

Shopping addiction can cause problems in relationships, as individuals may be secretive about their shopping habits, which can lead to mistrust and conflicts with loved ones. Additionally, excessive spending may lead to financial strain on the relationship.

3. Emotional And Mental Health Problems

Shopping addiction can contribute to the development or exacerbation of emotional and mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and stress.

4. Difficulty In Maintaining Daily Responsibilities

Shopping addiction can consume a lot of time, energy and mental space, making it difficult for individuals to focus on other areas of their life such as their work, studies, or family responsibilities.

5. Legal Problems

Shopping addiction can lead to criminal activities such as shoplifting, credit card fraud, or embezzlement.

6 Conscious Ways To Stop The Shopping Addiction 

1. Exercise Self-Control:

The efforts start with YOU. Exercise all the willpower, determination, and perseverance that you can gather, decide on the number of times you would allow yourself to go shopping, and stop yourself from beyond it. Ideally, make a list of the items you need, leaving a little room for luxury, and exercise self-restraint when you want to go overboard and buy what’s not mentioned in it.

2. Take The Help Of Family And Friends:

All the good wishers in your life, who can stop you every time you cross the limits of healthy shopping. You all can mutually agree upon the number of times you can indulge in it per month and then they can keep a tab on you accordingly. Inform them every time you go shopping, so they can make you realise you’re going beyond the agreed limit.

3. Divert Your Mind:

Keep yourself busy all the time as a healthy coping strategy, to keep your mind off shopping. Pursue your hobbies and learn new ones, so you are always preoccupied. 

4. Zero Access To Shopping Apps:

Delete all the shopping apps from your phone and also stop following all of them on your social media accounts. They are a sure-shot way to prevent yourself from giving into an online shopping addiction in the name of shopping therapy. If this is not enough, go ahead and block your favourite e-commerce shopping portals from your phone, laptop, tablet – whatever electronic device you own.

5. Dedicated Fitness Regime:

Follow a fitness routine, which releases all the feel-good hormones to keep you in high spirits throughout the day. Select a workout routine of your choice, walking, jogging, running, dancing, swimming – anything that catches your fancy and is sure of being able to sustain. This will enable you to channel your emotions to constructive activities.

6. Keep A Close Check On Your Finances:

Maintain a bank balance that will be just sufficient to meet your necessary expenses and transfer the rest to another account that you cannot easily access or, even better, invest it all.

When To Seek Help?

Individuals should seek help for shopping addiction when they find that their shopping and buying habits are causing significant problems in their life, such as:

1. Financial Difficulties

Difficulty paying bills or accumulating debt due to excessive spending.

2. Relationship Problems

Shopping addiction can cause problems in relationships, as individuals may be secretive about their shopping habits, which can lead to mistrust and conflicts with loved ones.

3. Emotional & Mental Health Problems

Shopping addiction can contribute to the development or exacerbation of emotional and mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and stress.

4. Social Isolation

Shopping addiction can cause individuals to withdraw from social activities and relationships, leading to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

5. Legal Problems

Shopping addiction can lead to criminal activities such as shoplifting, credit card fraud, or embezzlement.

If an individual is experiencing any of these problems, it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible. A mental health professional, such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist, can help determine if an individual has a shopping addiction and provide them with the necessary support and treatment to overcome it.

7 Ways To Prevent Shopping From Becoming An Addiction

  1. Every time you feel like shopping every now and then, talk to your friends and family, who can convince you against giving in to the obsession.
  2. Work with a therapist before the unhealthy habit can escalate into becoming a psychological disorder.
  3. Keep your credit card(s) in a place that is not readily accessible. This will prevent you from spending unnecessarily.
  4. Exercise self-confidence and self-care, and convince yourself that you’re worth all the good things in life.
  5. Feel grateful for the positive aspects of your life.
  6. Be consistent with your efforts to prevent a relapse.

Shopping addiction has been on the rise owing to the widespread consumerism that we see around us. This gives some people the opportunity to take to shopping as a means of overcoming stress, lack of self-confidence, and all negative emotions. Until it spirals into a full-blown psychological disorder. The above hacks will help you stop becoming a shopping addict and also overcome the symptoms if you have been diagnosed with it. 

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