The book and film Confessions of a Shopaholic are meant to be lighthearted looks at the life of the fictional Rebecca Bloomwood. With that in mind, they often treat her shopping addiction somewhat lightly. However, shopping addictions are real and can cause financial, emotional, and physical consequences. If you’re a shopping addict or think someone you know is, learn to recognize the signs so you or the individual can find help.
You Buy What You Don’t Need
Buying more than you need—including items you won’t use—is one of the typical signs of shopping addiction. Ask yourself how often you buy things on impulse or whether you buy duplicate items (i.e., buying a tenth book although you have five unread ones at home or buying a new phone case even though yours is fine). Additionally, ask why you buy items. Is it because they’re practical and you’ll actually use them or because they caught your eye? If the latter is your answer, you may be an addict.
Shopping Gives You a High
Like all addictions, shopping can and does result in an adrenaline rush. This is because while you’re shopping, the brain releases chemicals like dopamine that cause you to feel excited and happy. Ask yourself if you’re shopping primarily to get a rush, and if so, why.
You’ll Shop for Any Reason
People addicted to alcohol, drugs, or sugars often indulge when they’re angry, frustrated, or sad. Shopaholics do the same thing. If you have an emotional trigger, determine what you can do to avoid it or cope with it. Also watch out for eating disorders, mood disorders, or other issues that may increase the urge to shop.
You Hide Purchases
Many shopaholics feel guilty after purchases, so they hide them. They may watch for passing coworkers when shopping online or put bags in family members’ closets. If this describes you, you probably have an addiction.