Balance Between Normal Shopping and Shopaholism (or Compulsive Buying Disorder)

Everyone enjoys a good shopping experience. In fact, it is an essential part of regular life. It also feels good to go on a stroll in the mall, or finding a favorite item on sale. But how to balance a retail pick-me-up therapy with the extreme shopping addiction or compulsive behavior in some people, turning the issue into even addiction in a few of them.

Shopping addiction or spending behavior problem has specific terms. The terms are Shopaholism, Oniomania, or Compulsive Buying Disorder (CBD). Explained in everyday language, it is a behavioral disorder characterized by an obsession and a very strong impulse to buy things.

This excessive part of the buying behavior, an otherwise normal action, results in negative consequences. If left unchecked, it can drag people into severe financial problems and social problems similar to other well-known addictions like alcoholism and gambling addiction.

Compared to other types of addiction, shopping addiction often goes undetected by family and friends till debt becomes unmanageable or till it leads to other issues that bring the underlying problem to light.

It is essential to understand that people with Compulsive Buying Disorder usually also suffer from other mental health issues. It could be that abnormal shopping impulses are the person’s way of handling anxiety, depression, or bad moods. However, as with other addictions, excessive buying activity over a long period of time can make people even worse due to the inevitable consequences such as debt and social issues.

Studies identified an observational method to diagnose shopping addiction by looking for behavioral patterns such as:

  • Frequent fights and arguments about money with loved ones
  • Maxing out or exceeding credit card limits
  • Taking several lines of credit or loans
  • Frequent overdrafts on debit cards
  • Asking friends and family for money without a valid reason.

Unfortunately, people with extreme patterns of compulsive shopping behavior who are faced with piling debt could even resort to lying, theft, or financial fraud to continue with their addiction.

Due to a lack of sufficient research into shopping addiction, it is not recognized as a mental health disorder yet. Scientists are still debating whether compulsive and excessive buying should be considered as an impulse-control, obsessive-compulsive, or addictive disorder. Bue, many health care professionals agree that compulsive shopping has all the characters of a process addiction associated with mental health issues.

People with a shopping addiction usually shop alone, even if their friends share their love of shopping. For them, it’s a private pleasure, and they may feel embarrassed about their unusual behavior.

The first step to get help is to acknowledge that you have a problem related to shopping which is not normal. Once you take this step, you will have the motivation to look for help. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is a recommended method of treatment. It involves identifying and correcting problems associated with the way people feel, think and behave that are related to the addiction or compulsive behaviours.