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Compulsive Shopping Disorder

compulsive-shopping-disorder-2When you say you're addicted to shopping, it might be less of a joke and more of a diagnosis. 

We've all heard the jokes, seen the movies, and maybe even used it as an excuse ourselves from time to time, but shopping addictions are becoming a frightening reality in today's consumer-centered culture. Everywhere we go and everywhere we look, especially as women, we are bombarded with advertising for the newest clothes, makeup, accessories, and gadgets.

Most of us feel that we are in control of our shopping - splurging on the occasional item when we feel as though we’ve earned it or as a present for someone we like to spoil - but we’ve all felt the urge to forget that credit card bill and just go for it. People with compulsive shopping disorder may be less capable of suppressing that urge because it is indeed an addiction.

Compulsive Shopping Addiction

Compulsive shopping addiction, also known as compulsive buying disorder, is defined as excessive buying behavior that ultimately leads to impairment of the addict’s well-being. Many studies mark the prevalence of shopping compulsion in the U.S. population to about 5%, and the majority of those who suffer from the disorder are women.

Compulsive shopping disorder follows the tendency of many other addictions, such as kleptomania or food and drug addictions: it is characterized by an obsessive need to shop, high levels of anxiety before purchasing, and a feeling of relief after the purchase, and like other addictions, the end result is usually the detriment of many aspects of the addict’s life. It also tends to run hand-in-hand with other anxiety and mood disorders, though there is no specific type of personality, according to studies.

Signs of a Shopping Addiction:

  • Being preoccupied with spending money, shopping, and buying
  • Shopping frequently and often alone
  • Experiencing high levels of anxiety before making purchases
  • Experiencing euphoria directly after purchasing

Compulsive Shopping Disorder Help

While there is a clear difference between updating your wardrobe for the change of seasons or a new job and having a full-fledged, diagnosable addiction, compulsive shopping disorder is not something to be laughed at, dismissed, or ignored. If you or someone you know may suffer from a shopping compulsion, there are treatments available.

Most research that has been done on patients said to suffer from a shopping disorder has been done recently and there is still quite a bit to be done, but researchers have found some success with anti-depressants and behavioral therapies. There are an increasing number of books on compulsive shopping disorder being published, and more therapists are beginning to study and treat shopping addiction. Some therapists suggest that the person should bring a companion along with them to shop, someone who does not feel the need to shop as strongly, in order to act as a kind of check for any compulsive shopping behavior, but this is not a permanent fix.

Compulsive shopping disorder is real and can be extremely destructive to your bank account, your family, and your personal well-being, so anyone who feels as though their shopping is out of control should seek help from a counselor or therapist immediately.  

Brooke Lestock

Brooke Lestock

Hello, Womensforum.com universe! My name is Brooke Lockwood Lestock, and I recently graduated from the University of Virginia with a Master’s degree in English. I am a native Floridian, where I lived until I obtained my B.A. in English from the University of Florida (Go Gators!), but I have since lived in D.C., working at a school for children with learning disabilities, and Virginia, where I studied, read constantly, blogged and managed digital projects.

Currently, I live in Chicago with my husband and a tailless cat named Mac. I am a Project Manager at a software development company by day, freelance writer/bookworm/fashion enthusiast/media junkie by night.

I'm proud to be writing for Womensforum.com, as I have done a great deal of academic writing on issues unique to women, and now I finally have the chance to write about what interests us without a professor looking over my shoulder! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!