Nobody loves a sale more than I do. I relish the idea of picking up something for next to nothing and have even signed up for e-mails that announce all of the discounted items at my favorite shops. For me, discovering that something special -- on sale -- is like finding buried treasure.
But what if you need to feel like you're discovering buried treasure every day? What if you use shopping to feel more control in your life? To help soothe depression? According to a 2006 Stanford University study, shopping addiction affects as much as 6 percent of the U.S. population. And while it seems to be an addiction that affects mostly women, it actually affects both sexes in equal numbers.
According to one article from the World Psychiatric Association compulsive shopping tends to run in families, and these families are filled with mood and substance use disorders. There may also be the tendency for obsessive-compulsive, avoidant and borderline personality disorder types, the article states.
And apparently, researchers have identified four distinct phases linked to compulsive shopping disorder that include anticipation, preparation, shopping and spending.
Other behavior noted by scientists are that most of those afflicted tend to shop by themselves and most typically purchase clothing, shoes, compact discs, jewelry, cosmetics and household items. Compulsive shoppers spend between $90 and $110 per episode.
But it's not necessarily how or what's purchased that determines if you're experiencing compulsive buying disorder, but rather how it makes you feel. Once the act of shopping is completed, there seems to be a sense of let down or disappointment and some of those in studies say they have felt depression, anxiety, boredom, anger and self-critical thoughts.
You may be able to evaluate your shopping habits based on the following questions ...
Do you feel overly preoccupied with shopping and spending?;
Do you ever feel that your shopping behavior is excessive, inappropriate or uncontrolled?;
Have your shopping desires, urges, fantasies, or behaviors ever been overly time consuming, caused you to feel upset or guilty, or lead to serious problems in your life such as financial or legal problems or the loss of a relationship?
One important note from the study is that normal buying behavior needs to be ruled out of the equation for compulsive shopping disorder. Shopping is a major pastime, especially for women and normal buying can sometimes take on a compulsive quality especially around the holidays.
Have you ever felt like your shopping habits have crossed the line into compulsiveness? How did you cope with it?
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