Shopping is not a good medicine

For many people, visiting malls and buying things, even if there is no genuine need, is a leisure activity. Even health experts recommend that ‘malling’ keeps a person young and fit. But experts also warn that compulsive shopping in malls can become an addiction. “People with this disorder may be addicted to a certain product, such as clothes or jewellery, or may also buy anything from food and beauty products, to stocks or real estate”, alerts a report in Healthline.
Little is known about this addiction. Research is mixed, with some studies showing that women are more likely to have this addiction than men. Other research has shown that men and women have an equal risk of developing the disorder.
“Once the brain associates shopping with this pleasure or high, the person with a shopping addiction will try to recreate it again and again”, adds the report.
Excessive shopping, which is otherwise an addiction, is characterised by a widespread desire to shop and purchase items disregarding their need or necessary financial power to afford such items.
Some spend too much money while engaging in this activity that they shop till they finish their wallets.
“If you find that you constantly overspend your budget for a shopping excursion then you should realise that you are slowly becoming a victim of shopping addiction”, said Hashil al Hatmi, psychology specialist at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital.
Although most addictions have physical symptoms related to them, shopping addictions may not. In most cases, the symptoms you experience due to your shopping addiction will be emotional in nature, he says.
“The physical evidence of a shopping addiction may include a declining financial situation. Often it leads to racking up credit cards and overspending to a point in which their behaviours lead to many adverse consequences”, points out Hashil.
At the same time, the report in the Healthline opines that someone with a shopping addiction may hide their problem well, and sometimes the only ones who know about their problem are those closest to them.
Many compulsive shoppers convey an image of wealth and success, while in reality they are deeply in debt. If they are unable to stop shopping or have large amounts of shopping debt, they may have an addiction.
A casual disregard towards shopping addiction is harmful as the consequences of the addiction are every bit as serious — financially, socially and emotionally — as any other addiction. The cause of this underlying disorder isn’t known, though the fact that such disorders tend to run in families would seem to suggest a hereditary element.
According to experts, the behaviour itself is often encouraged and intensified by the presence of various stressors in the addict’s life. Factors such as job stress, family stress and poor health play a role in setting the pace and tempo of the addiction, though little evidence indicates these factors instigate the condition.
Shopping addiction isn’t simply a matter of shopping frequently, nor is it measured in terms of the money spent while doing it.
Rather, the true measure of whether or not an individual is suffering from a shopping addiction — as with any addiction — is the issue of whether the suspect behaviour persists, or even escalates, in the face of mounting consequences.
As a true alcoholic will persist in drinking long past the point where it has cost a job, life and relationships, so a shopping addict might continue shopping even as the bills pile up and other, more essential, expenses go unpaid.