Excessive Shopping Could Be Sign of Underlying Distress, Says Expert Psychologist Who Gives An Interesting Take On Shopping Addiction
Addiction is the act of repeating set behaviors even at the cost of health, well-being, and obvious negative consequences.
Nicotine, gambling, sex, and alcohol addiction are the most common types. A lesser-heard form of addiction is shopping addiction also known as compulsive buying disorder. Although it may not be viewed as a serious mental health disorder, it can be an indication of underlying distress, personality crisis, or a way to mask low self-esteem and other issues.
At Holistic Living, we had a client who engaged in obsessive shopping every time she was stressed. She liked to call it retail therapy’. Sadly the effects of that therapy lasted only for a few hours and came with huge debt.
After realizing that her habit of shopping was not very healthy, she chose to seek ‘real therapy’ aka talking to a certified and expert psychologist. During the therapy sessions, she learned a great deal about herself. She could see that shopping was an outlet for her inferiority complex that she felt when she saw others on social media, and subconsciously became obsessed with brands and looking ‘bougie’
In order to keep up with the fashion trends and look rich and well-dressed, she used up her credit card, depleted her savings, and even broke her FDs and PFs. In spite of doing all this, she still did not feel good about herself which then drove her to shop even more.
She got her wake-up call when she received a phone call from her bank threatening to sue her if she did not clear her credit card dues. Somehow, she managed to pay off the debt but she still felt helpless about her shopping addiction.
The expert psychologist helped her to build confidence in herself, and with the use of effective CBT techniques guided her to build a resilient mindset, and not let the social media trends consume her thoughts.
In therapy, she also learned better coping skills and how to control her urge to buy new things. It was a gradual process, but by the end of the therapy, she was free from her addiction and felt positive about herself.
The need to extremely indulge in anything whether it is food, clothes, sex, or drugs is often a sign of unresolved issues. In the client’s case, it was her struggle with her self-esteem that led to her shopping addiction.
A person with Compulsive Buying Disorder (CBD), or shopping addiction may spend money compulsively, even when they cannot afford to do so, leading to significant financial problems such as credit card debt and bankruptcy. They may also experience feelings of guilt, shame, and anxiety as a result of their compulsive shopping behavior, leading to a further spiral of negative emotions and impulsive spending.
An individual who exhibits the following signs may be suffering from CBD or shopping addiction:
Frequent and excessive shopping: People with CBD may shop more frequently and spend more money than they can afford.
Preoccupation with shopping: Individuals with CBD may spend a significant amount of time thinking about shopping, browsing online stores, or planning their next shopping trip.
Difficulty controlling urges to shop: People with CBD may find it challenging to resist the urge to shop, even when it’s not necessary or financially responsible.
Financial problems: CBD can lead to significant financial problems, such as debt, bankruptcy, and overspending.
Emotional distress: Individuals with CBD may experience feelings of guilt, shame, and anxiety as a result of their compulsive shopping behavior.
Relationship issues: CBD can cause conflicts in personal relationships, as the individual may prioritize shopping over spending time with loved ones or neglect their responsibilities.
Hoarding: Some individuals with CBD may accumulate many items they do not need or use, leading to clutter and disorganization in their homes.
Trying to hide shopping behavior: People with CBD may try to hide their shopping behavior from others, including loved ones and financial advisors.
Living with CBD can lead to irreparable consequences, hence it is important to seek professional help to understand the underlying causes of shopping addiction and learn how to manage it better.
As mentioned before, CBD could only be the tip of the real issue. For example, a person with a history of childhood trauma and low self-esteem may turn to compulsive shopping as a way to feel better about themselves. In another case, a person with social anxiety may use shopping to avoid social situations and feel more in control.
Other conditions that could be linked to shopping addiction include:
Stress: People may use shopping as a coping mechanism for stress. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that people experiencing stress may engage in compulsive shopping behavior to alleviate negative emotions and escape from dealing with stress.
Low self-esteem: Individuals with low self-esteem may use shopping to feel better about themselves. They may spend reckless amounts of money on purchasing branded things even when they can’t afford their rent.
Depression: People with depression may use shopping to lift their mood temporarily. They may feel better for a short duration, but again experience depressed moods leading them to engage in shopping behavior again.
Anxiety: People with anxiety may use shopping to distract themselves from their worries. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology found that people with anxiety were more likely to engage in compulsive buying behavior.
Research studies have also found that certain personality traits, such as impulsivity and low conscientiousness, can be risk factors for CBD. For example, a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions found that people with CBD had higher levels of impulsivity and more difficulty regulating their emotions.
It’s essential to understand that shopping addiction is not just about a lack of self-control or materialism. It can be a complex and multifaceted issue that requires professional help to address underlying mental health concerns. An expert psychologist can provide a comprehensive evaluation and develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses both the addiction and any underlying mental health concerns.
If you feel that your shopping addiction is getting out of hand and creating havoc in your life then we recommend talking to our expert psychologist. Simply Call/WhatsApp by clicking the link to get your 10-minute Free consultation today.