A shopping addiction is a behavioral addiction. There are no chemicals to ingest or alcohol to drink, yet shopping addiction is a viable disorder. It can interfere with activities of daily living, destroy relationships, affect how one works, and ruin finances.
The addiction to shopping is like a substance use disorder in that a person gets addicted to how they feel when shopping. This is due to the brain releasing endorphins and dopamine, which help us experience pleasure. Over time and like the drug addict or alcoholic, the shopping addict will need to shop more to feel the high associated with shopping.
Often it is difficult to tell if you have a shopping addiction. Many people shop, and many people will shop on impulse or go on a shopping spree, especially during the holidays. This does not indicate a shopping addiction.
A shopping addict will try to hide their shopping behaviors from others, just like an alcoholic hides their alcohol use from others. You may hide store receipts or accumulate large amounts of credit card debt to finance your shopping. Many shopping addicts will lie about where they have been and may even resort to theft to finance shopping trips.
Shopping addicts experience a range of symptoms including losing control of their shopping behavior, shopping when feeling angry or depressed, shopping to relieve the guilt associated with a prior shopping trip, and spending more than they can afford. Shopping addicts may experience positive emotions when shopping; however, these are usually short lived. Once the shopping has stopped, the person feels overwhelming guilt, anxiety, and shame. Sometimes these feelings will entice a person to shop more.
- Do you shop when feeling angry or disappointed?
- Has overspending created problems in your life?
- When you shop, do you feel euphoric?
- Do you think about money a lot, in terms of not having any due to excessive shopping or needing money to shop?
- Are you experiencing relationship problems because of your shopping?
- After you shop, do you feel like you just had an adventure?
- Do you buy things that you will not use or wear?
- Do you feel guilty or embarrassed about your shopping behavior?