If you love to raid Zara on pay day you might playfully refer to yourself as a shop-a-holic, but research suggests that being unable to stop buying things shouldn’t be taken lightly.
One study suggests that as many as 1 in 20 people in developed countries have a shopping addiction – but it is rarely taken seriously.
But that might be about to change as world famous rehabilitation and healthcare centre the Priory has added shopping addiction to it’s official list of treatable disorders.
So how do you know if have a shopping addiction or if you’re just a bit partial to a spot of retail therapy?
What are the signs of shopping addiction?
Most addictions have physical symptoms related to them, but shopping addictions may not. Your symptoms are much more likely to be emotional.
Experts agree that people with a shopping addiction find it difficult to stop and that it results in harm, showing that it is an involuntary and destructive kind of behaviour.
People with the condition often try to hide it from friends and partners as they feel shame, alienating themselves from the people who are best placed to support them.
But researchers do struggle to agree on a definition of the condition – largely due to a lack of comprehensive or conclusive research into the problem.
‘Shopping addiction, which is also known as ‘compulsive shopping disorder’ or ‘oniomania’, is a socially and financially damaging psychological condition,’ it reads on the Priory website.
‘While many people like to shop during time off, at weekends, or during seasonal holiday periods such as at Christmas, shopping addiction involves an overwhelming urge to shop and subsequently spend until it begins to adversely affect your life.
‘This may include overspending and taking out several store credit cards in order to be able to purchase items, even if you may be aware that this could incur long-term financial debt.’
The Priory now offers assessment and treatment for shopping addiction at its centres across the UK. The healthcare provider says that one worrying thing about the condition is that many people do not seek help because it is not widely regarded as a disorder.
‘Shopping addiction is considered the most socially reinforced behavioural addiction,’ explains their website.
‘The stigma attached to excessive drug or alcohol use in modern society doesn’t apply to compulsive shopping habits, with a consumerist lifestyle perceived as a measure of social status across much of the western world exacerbating the problem for many.’
The hope is that adding shopping addiction to the list of treatable disorders will result in more research being conducted to help define diagnostic criteria.
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