Compulsive shopping (shopping addiction) is a very real addiction affecting millions, yet many people take it lightly or deny its existence -- after all, shopping is a harmless pastime that makes us feel good, right? With so many opinions out there, we thought you should know some of the facts about shopping addiction and the pervasive issue that exists for many
Shopping addiction, can be defined as the compulsion to spend money, regardless of need or financial means.
• Shopping as a result of feeling lonely, angry, depressed, or anxious
• Arguments with others about shopping
• Feeling anxious without credit cards
• Spending primarily with credit
• Feelings of euphoria while spending
• Lying about spending
• Thinking obsessively about money
• Spending a lot of time adjusting bills and accounts to fit in spending
One might think women would be more likely than men to be shopping addicts, but in fact the stats are similar. According to a Stanford University study, about 6% of women and 5.5% of men are compulsive shoppers. So, what causes people to become shopping addicts?
Professionals have slightly different theories, but they consistently agree that compulsive shoppers buy with the idea that their purchase will relieve some emotional pain. The emotional pain ranges from self-esteem issues to childhood trauma to a genetic predisposition.
A recent study by Researchers from Norway’s University of Bergen have created The Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale, a test that uses specific criteria to determine whether or not a person is a shopping addict, as well as the severity of their addiction.
According the the Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale, you can help determine that answer with the following questions:
Simply answer each with “completely disagree, disagree, neither disagree nor agree, agree, and completely agree:”
- You think about shopping/buying things all the time.
- You shop/buy things in order to change your mood.
- You shop/buy so much that it negatively affects your daily obligations (e.g., school and work).
- You feel you have to shop/buy more and more to obtain the same satisfaction as before.
- You have decided to shop/buy less, but have not been able to do so.
- You feel bad if you for some reason are prevented from shopping/buying things.
- You shop/buy so much that it has impaired your well-being.
If you answer “agree” or “completely agree” on at least four of the seven items, you may be a shopping addict.
If you or someone you know is potentially suffering from shopping addiction, there are many options available for help. Start by seeking professional help and check for the closest Debtors Anonymous program, which is a support group for shopping addicts. It’s important to recognize that shopping addiction is a real condition, and that help is needed. Allowing family members and friends to help the shopper with the addictive cycle can be crucial. For more information, check out this list of resources:
If you or someone you love has gotten help to break the cycle of shopping addiction, and you are looking for assistance to address debt issues that have resulted from your addiction, there is hope.
Consumer Education Services, Inc. empowers people to overcome their financial challenges and lead financially-healthy lives.
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