A bit of retail therapy whether online or at the mall every now and then can be enjoyable. However, sometimes buying spins out of control and shoppers get themselves into serious debt. In some cases, they feel the need to keep their spending secret from their partner or families. These are symptoms of what is known as compulsive shopping. Shoes, clothing, household items, jewelry and items that are on sale are common purchases of shopping addicts. Read on to learn more about the psychology of this addiction.
Compulsive shopping is making repetitive purchases a main response to negative feelings or events. Typically, a person may feel lonely, depressed or out of control and will spend money to relieve his or her stress. Shoppers experience a rush of excitement when they make a purchase, which can become addictive. This is because it activates the brain’s reward pathway, flooding dopamine into one’s system. However, once the item is in their possession, the high wears off and a feeling of depression and/or emptiness returns. The shopper then craves the dopamine rush yet again and buys another item. This in turn can lead to damaged finances and relationships. In fact, 58% of compulsive shoppers have serious debts.
In addition to stress relief, there are many other reasons why a person becomes addicted to buying. Most causes are psychological and include the need to gain control, perfectionism, a lack of impulse control and an emotionally deprived childhood. Fortunately, therapy is often effective in treating compulsive shopping. To learn more about the psychology of consumer spending, see the accompanying resource.