Fashionista or Addicted shopper?

Kristen Frescoe, MSc
November 29, 2019

For many people, in times of stress or melancholy, shopping can take on the role of “retail therapy”. In fact, most of us have had the occasion to indulge in a little retail therapy to make ourselves feel better. Overspending on a must-have item does offer a certain thrill.

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There is nothing wrong with finding enjoyment in shopping. That is, as long as it does not spiral out of control.

If it feels like spending has become a compulsion or addiction , how do you know when you have crossed the line into shopping addiction?

Let’s take a look at the signs that your shopping habits might be problematic and what you can do about it.

What is a Shopping Addiction?

Shopping makes the shift from pleasurable to problematic when it goes from enjoying an occasional impulse buy to an ongoing compulsion.

 If you feel like you “need” to shop in order to feel your best this is a surefire sign that you are in a danger zone.

5 Signs of a Shopping Addiction

1: Your Regularly Buy Things You Don’t Need or Use 

One sign that your shopping habits might be something you need to address is when you find yourself buying things you don’t need or use on a regular basis. 

This could mean a closet full of clothes with tags intact or a string of impulse buys when scrolling through social media. Regardless of what or how you buy, purchases that don’t make sense later can be a clear warning sign.

2: You Buy Because of the Rush it Gives You 

While most people can remember a time that something they bought made them feel great. The difficulty comes when this feeling is a normal thing for you.

Buying because it gives you a rush or a boost in mood can be another sign that you need to make some changes in your shopping habits.

3: You Feel Compelled to Buy Things

If buying is something you feel compelled to do without much reason to shop, it might be another sign of a potential shopping addiction.

It’s one thing to buy when you need things. But when buying things feels like something you “have” to do, pay attention to what might be going on. This could be sign that you have an issue that needs addressing. 

4: When You Get Sad or Upset – You Shop

A fourth sign that your shopping might be a source of difficulty is when you use it as a tool when you feel down.

If you get sad or upset, do you immediately think of shopping as an outlet to feel better? If so, be aware that this might be leading you in a not so great direction.

5: You Spend Beyond What You Can Afford Regularly

One final sign that you need to pay closer attention to your shopping habits is that you spend beyond your means.

If you find yourself buying more than what you can comfortably afford this is a red flag. Yes, everyone has the occasion to overspend here and there for indulgence, but if this is commonplace for you – pay attention.

Is a Shopping Addiction Treatable?

If you or someone you love show signs of a shopping addiction it is nothing to be ashamed of.

This is an addiction like any other and should be treated as such. There are plenty of mental health professionals who work with people battling addictions that can help you reclaim your life, your finances, and your addiction. Don’t wait to find the help you need.

Kristen Frescoe, MSc

Kristen has a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Forensic Psychology. She worked as a rape crisis counselor and inmate counselor. The research focus was on collecting data to assess the effectiveness of treatments for inmates living with PTSD. She founded a company specializing in Industrial & Organizational Psychology, applying clinical psychological practices in the business world. She is currently the Clinical Program Manager at Resility Health and Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Rowan College.

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