Understanding Compulsive Shopping

compulsive shopping

 by Katherine Todd



I have always loved to shop. I shop in order to relax from a long, stressful day. So, how does casual, relaxing shopping turn into an uncontrollable impulse that damages your personal, professional, and financial well being? Compulsive shopping is defined as an uncontrollable and impulsive urge to shop. It is considered equally destructive as any other addictive behavior, like alcoholism and drug abuse. Helga Dittmar says that shopping addicts expect that purchasing unnecessary things will aid their emotional problems or physical insecurities. Like other addictions, there is a cycle to compulsive shopping. The addict has feelings of anxiety or even depression, which they think can be soothed with shopping. This cycle is endlessly repeated, because the addict often ends up feeling worse than they did before they made a purchase, causing them to shop more.

There are many assumed causes of compulsive shopping, but no one underlying psychiatric condition has been agreed upon. Compulsive shopping often stems from multiple events or cultivated traits during the addict’s childhood. According to a compulsive shopping expert, Angela Wurtzel, many people with compulsive shopping disorder have unknowingly experienced some sort of loss during their childhood. Compulsive shopping is seen as a coping mechanism many people use in response to their fears or death anxiety.

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