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In the modern world, we live in a consumer’s paradise. The Internet has undoubtedly contributed to the ease in which retail transactions are made. The rise of the Internet has also been accompanied by the rise of perfectionism.

People both young and old are pressured by society to look their best and to compete with their peers when it comes to owning the newest iPhone or parading a Louis Vuitton handbag.

It’s thus not surprising to learn that some will develop a condition known as compulsive shopping. Those affected by this disorder will shop in order to achieve self-esteem. However, self-esteem achieved in this way is a mist that will soon fade away. Sufferers must perpetually spend money on items they do not need in order to chase this wholly superficial and non-lasting self-esteem.

Why compulsive shopping is an addiction

Compulsive shopping is not unlike other addictions such as alcoholism, drug addiction and gambling addiction. All of these conditions stimulate the release of dopamine in the brain. Happiness associated with short-term dopamine hits is short lived and thus must be continuously repeated in order to keep sufferers feeling in control of their lives.

Some who engage in compulsive shopping will also suffer from a co-occurring mental health condition such as depression, loneliness or anxiety. These people may use compulsive shopping as a way of self-medicating these mental illnesses. Compulsive shopping serves to raise self-esteem and allow sufferers to escape their thoughts and feelings. This is why compulsive shopping is often described as a negative coping strategy.

The signs of compulsive shopping

One sign that you suffer from compulsive shopping is that you own many items that you never seem to wear. You may also purge these items by giving them away to charity when your wardrobe simply will no longer hold this great quantity of items. It’s also true that women are more likely to suffer from compulsive shopping compared to men.

Another sign that you could be suffering from compulsive shopping is that you hide the items you buy from your spouse or other loved ones. When your loved one challenges you on your spending habits, you will likely deny that you suffer from the condition.

How is compulsive shopping best tackled?

By far the best form of treatment for compulsive shopping is to attend professional therapy sessions. Addictive behaviours rarely go away without treatment. Compulsive shopping is a progressive disorder, so not seeking out help will ensure you condition worsens with time.

Compulsive shopping infographic

The infographic begins by defining what is ‘compulsive shopping’. The infographic then states the commonality of compulsive shopping for each gender.

Interestingly, the infographic outlines the four phases of compulsive shopping and when people with this disorder are most likely to spend their money.   Finally, the infographic outlines a number treatments that are effective for treating people suffering from compulsive shopping.

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