Spending addiction is a real thing. It might just seem like a made up syndrome used to rationalize away the bad habits of the Real Housewives characters, but it’s not. People with spending addictions find the draw of the nearest shopping mall or internet retailer too much and they can’t control themselves enough to resist purchasing something.
This very real condition has a psychological basis. Unfortunately, unless you are aware of your problem and willing to get help, you can’t truly overcome the addiction. Like alcohol or drug addictions, spending addictions have a chemical basis in the brain. The reward center is triggered during shopping, leading the individual to continue shopping to seek greater and more frequent feelings of pleasure.
So how do you know if you have a spending addiction? Read the signs below and see if any apply to you.
You often hide your shopping from friends and family members for fear that they will disapprove. This can include going shopping when you say you are doing something else, or hiding purchases before anyone can discover them. Some people with spending addictions also have hoarding problems, so you may have a large collection of one specific item, such as shoes, that you are unwilling to part with.
You only feel happy when you shop or think about shopping. Regular activities that don’t take place in a store don’t make you happy anymore. Spending time with friends and family or enjoying time outdoors has little to no appeal. Instead, you prefer the hustle and activity of a crowded mall full of storefronts and new merchandise.
You feel anxious when you are unable to shop to the point that you sometimes rely on online shopping to fill the void. Spending addicts get their highs in a variety of ways, and with the increased availability of the internet, many addicts are turning to e-merchants to get their fix. If the thought of being away from all shopping sources, including online ones, makes you anxious or unwell feeling, there is a good chance you have an addiction.
Spending addictions can tear families apart and ruin individuals financially. The effects of a spending addiction are deep and wide. If you feel that any of the above signs apply to you, you may need to see the help of a professional councilor that can help you overcome your addiction and lead a normal life.
If someone you know has a spending addiction, you can help them by being supportive and non-judgmental. Instead of blaming them for their actions, ask how you can help get them the help they need. When caught early, the damaging effects of a spending addiction can be undone.