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Overcome Your Shopping Addiction

Shopaholism, or compulsive shopping, is a behavioural issue that has become increasingly prevalent in the era of easy online shopping access. While it may seem harmless initially, shopaholism can quickly escalate, significantly affecting an individual’s life in various negative ways.

Can shopaholism be considered a real addiction?

Shopaholism or compulsive shopping is recognised as a behavioural addiction. It shares many characteristics with other addictive behaviours, such as an inability to control the behaviour, continuing the behaviour despite negative consequences, and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop.

The negative impacts of shopaholism

Shopaholism often leads to severe financial instability as the individual spends beyond their means, accumulating debt and undermining their financial security. This behaviour can strain relationships, with compulsive shoppers sometimes hiding their spending from loved ones, leading to trust issues and conflicts. Moreover, it takes a toll on mental health, as feelings of guilt, anxiety, and shame frequently follow shopping sprees. These emotional consequences can exacerbate existing mental health conditions and lead to a detrimental cycle of shopping as a flawed coping mechanism.

Signs of shopaholism

  1. Excessive shopping: Frequently spending more time and money than planned.
  2. Distress and impairment: Personal or relational distress due to shopping habits.
  3. Compulsive buying: An overwhelming urge to shop, often for unneeded or unwanted items​​.

Psychological underpinnings

The roots of shopaholism often lie in deeper emotional and psychological needs. For many, shopping serves as an escape from negative emotions like stress, anxiety, or boredom, offering a temporary sense of relief or happiness. Additionally, it can be a misguided attempt to fulfil unmet psychological needs, such as boosting self-esteem, exerting control, or seeking social connection. This behaviour becomes a problematic coping strategy, especially when individuals shop to compensate for other areas of dissatisfaction in their lives.

Strategies to curb shopaholism

Avoid emotional shopping: Refrain from shopping when feeling stressed, bored, or upset.

Identify triggers: Recognise the underlying reasons for shopping sprees. For example, is the urge stronger after a stressful day at work or perhaps as a pick-me-up when something didn’t go your way? Knowing what triggers your behaviour can help you recognise the signs and look for other ways to make you feel better.

Avoid impulse buys: Delay purchases to prevent unnecessary spending. Wait a day or two before committing to buy an item.

Find alternatives: Engage in activities like walking, new hobbies, or spending time with your loved ones.

Get support: Seek help from family and friends for accountability.

Track spending: Monitor expenses using budgeting apps.

Seek professional help: Consult a therapist or counsellor if self-help strategies are insufficient.

In essence, shopaholism is not just a financial issue but a complex problem intertwining emotional needs and the addictive nature of consumerism. By recognising the problem, understanding its underlying causes, and employing practical and emotional strategies, individuals can regain control over their shopping habits and work towards a more balanced and fulfilling life.

Did You Know?

  • Oniomania, another term for shopaholism, is primarily a woman’s disorder, with about 90% of those affected being female. This demographic might be changing with the rise of online shopping​​.
  • The disorder often starts in the late teens or early twenties and is considered chronic.
  • Compulsive shoppers have significantly higher rates of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, binge eating, and impulse control disorders.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.  Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

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