Do you find yourself spending more than you can afford? Perhaps your credit card bills or other debts continue to pile up, causing you to stress over how you’ll ever pay them off. Overspending can also take a toll on relationships. Maybe you attempt to hide your shopping habits from loved ones, in turn isolating you from important support systems. Further, if you share your finances with a partner, perhaps they become frustrated by the strain your spending puts on the finances, leading to arguments and issues of trust. Regardless, as with any habitual behavior, excessive shopping is likely to cause significant detriments to your well-being.
Problems with shopping don’t look the same for everyone. For example, whereas one person might shop compulsively and indiscriminately to cope with emotional distress, another person might obsessively shop for “trophies”, or the “perfect item”. Further, some people may purchase expensive items while another person may be a bargain shopper, perhaps purchasing many items they don’t need because they are on sale. Other people with shopping problems might get caught in a vicious cycle of buying items only to return them later. Finally, someone might have a problem if they don’t feel “complete” until they have an item in each color or they have completed a set of a collection, for example.
Many people enjoy shopping and spending money. So, where is the line between “healthy” shopping and negative spending habits? First of all, in the case of shopping obsession, the adverse effects of the shopping cause the person significant distress or impairment in their daily functioning. In addition, the person may exhibit symptoms similar to that of substance abuse. Here are some signs that you or your loved one may have a problem with shopping:
…experiences an increase in mood or a “high” from shopping.
…needs to spend more money or shop more frequently to achieve desired excitement.
…has tried to cut back on their spending but has been unsuccessful.
…is often preoccupied with shopping. For example, they spend a lot of time shopping, thinking about shopping, or thinking of ways to get money with which to shop.
…often shops when feeling distressed (e.g., helpless, guilty, anxious, depressed).
…lies to conceal the extent of their shopping or spending.
…has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunities because of their shopping/spending.
…relies on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by shopping/spending.
This is a treatable disorder. If you or a loved one wishes to achieve control over spending impulses, make an appointment with a specialist at Great Lakes Psychology Group today.