Shop Till You Drop Syndrome

Man dealing with a compulsive shopper

Shopping is a form of freedom which can, unfortunately, turn into compulsion and then bankruptcy. Compulsive shopping is also recognized as a form of depression, and the spending is self-medication. But there are ways to get help.

We Love Shopping

One of the favorite American pastimes is shopping, but over-shopping has become a real problem for millions of people who really do ‘shop till they drop.’ It was noted by Shopaholics Anonymous that much of the U.S. economy depends on easy access to credit cards, 24-hour TV and internet shopping, and never-ending advertising, pushing you to buy things you don’t actually need.

Loans to Help You Shop

All these make compulsive shopping very easy. Compulsive shopping is a legitimate disorder, and it reflects a national problem of debt, financial crisis, and difficulty understanding the difference between want and need. Many people either apply for loans so that they can shop, or need to apply for loans to pay back their shopping debts.

When Shopping Becomes Compulsive Spending

Approximatively 6-9 percent of Americans are compulsive shoppers. It’s similar to any other addiction – eating disorders, sex addiction, and gambling, to mention a few. When shopping is used to deal with stress, it then classifies as compulsive, and it becomes tough to control.

Compulsive spending or shopping is considered an impulse control disorder if it’s chronic and repetitive, difficult to control, and results in harmful consequences. It’s more common in women than men. Causes may include:

  • Emotional trauma or deprivation in childhood.
  • Need for approval.
  • Need for control.
  • Need to fill an inner void.
  • A painful loss or grief.

Warning Signs

Like other addictive behaviors, compulsive shopping may cause changes in brain activity. Results of a study reflect MRI brain images of 23 women with a compulsive shopping disorder and 26 women who were ordinary shoppers and showed higher brain activity in the areas of the brain responsible for decision making. Unfortunately, habitual shoppers are likely to be suffering from other disorders such as substance abuse, anxiety, and depression.
Therefore, if you think you might be a compulsive shopper, signs to watch for are: Female shopping brain

  • Shopping to avoid painful feelings.
  • Buying things you don’t need.
  • Like to shop alone.
  • Hiding the stuff you buy from others.
  • Feel a high when shopping, feel guilty afterward.
  • Shopping is causing you financial difficulties.
  • Shopping is causing emotional problems in your life.

Overcoming Compulsive Shopping

In the end, depending on the desire of the person who suffers from compulsive shopping, and on the living circumstances, the situation is possible to be managed.
Here are some tips to overcome compulsive shopping:

  • Admit you have a problem.
  • Don’t go shopping when you feel emotional.
  • Ask for help from your doctor or mental health professional.
  • Join a self-help group like Shopaholics Anonymous.
  • Get rid of your credit cards.
  • Shop with a list and a friend.
  • Avoid Internet shopping sites and TV shopping channels.
  • Find healthy ways to deal with difficult emotions.

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