These days, shopping is as much a form of entertainment as going to the movies or playing video games. Between mall culture and convenient credit, it's easy to spend your time spending money.
Shopping shifts into high gear around the holidays. Some people view shopping as a sport, some as a chore. For others, the season is just another occasion to wrestle with compulsive buying - especially if they're stressed or depressed.
For these folks, the mere thought of visiting a store any time of year can ease anxiety. The obsessive, uncontrollable act of shopping, even without buying, offers them fleeting excitement. Once home, compulsive shoppers who do buy often feel remorse, with maxed-out credit cards.
Approximately six percent of the American population are compulsive buyers. Compulsive shopping is a growing problem in our society because of easy access to credit, internet shopping, and television shopping networks. It is also associated with another disorder, such as anxiety or depression.
Compulsive buyers include men and women of any ethnic, social or economic group and age, with growing prevalence among teens and young adults. The majority of compulsive shoppers are women. Often shopping becomes an issue because it begins to interfere with the ability to function in life. Overspenders describe a preoccupation with thinking about shopping with tension building until they have a shopping excursion, which relieves the tension.
Many compulsive buyers shop not necessarily for things they want or need, but to fulfill much deeper emotional needs. Whether a symptom of a larger problem or a disorder in itself, what underlies compulsive buying is often an internal void that the person is trying to fill.
The price tag
When they shop, compulsive shoppers get smiles from sales clerks and feel successful for spending. But those feelings don't last. Compulsive buyers with high debt can face financial, relationship and legal problems. This makes them feel so bad they go shopping again - and the cycle continues.
But it is a cycle that can end. First, the person has to recognize that he or she has a problem and wants to stop. Then, positive action is necessary to modify the behavior and get to the root of the problem.
There are always other, more constructive ways to meet the needs that motivate you, in the first place, to walk into that store. Compulsive buyers have to take stock of themselves and ask, 'What am I really shopping for?'"
Are you a compulsive buyer?
These are signs of compulsive shopping:
Stopping the shopping
Here are ideas on how to end compulsive buying:
Online tools to help manage your daily life.
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