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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

When shopping turns into a shopping disorder

Shopping becomes a shopping disorder when the shopper loses financial responsibility, spends uncontrollably, and shops to feel better. According to the Journal of the World Psychiatry Association (WPA), the disorder is called, "compulsive buying disorder". It may also be referred to as "shopoholism" or shopping addiction.

While a shopping disorder may not be considered by some to be a medical condition per se, it certainly is by the WPA and may be representative of an underlying and unresolved issue. This article will The video and content that follow identify and illustrate what a shopping disorder is, how to identify in addition to offering tips on how to go about remedying the condition.

Identifying a shopping "disorder"

There are several tell tale signs that shopping may be problematic and financially unhealthy. A few of the symptoms may include the following:

• Shopping for the sake of shopping
• Amelioration of psychological unhappiness
• Uncontrolled spending
• Rationalization of excess shopping
• Crankiness and denial that there may be a problem

There can also be psychological symptoms associated with shopping disorder. These psychological conditions can be thought of to be the real problem behind the erratic shopping behavior which is more like the symptom than the problem itself. A few of the underlying psychological conditions include the following:

• Depression or depressive episodes
• Manic episodes
• Emotional voids
• Social complexes

In all the above instances, the obsessive shopping is believed to be an expression of or relief from the underlying condition. For example, if a compulsive shopper consistently shops to escape a reality they otherwise don't like such as being emotionally lonely regardless of ability to afford the items purchased the cause is an emotional instability.

How to remedy shopping disorders

Naturally the most obvious way to remedy compulsive shopping would be to stop shopping. However, not everyone who has this problem may be able to do so easily. In such cases they may need help whether it be companionship, social therapy, cognitive therapy, psychiatric treatment or just a friend.

By identifying what is causing the problem first, treating the compulsive shopping can proceed more effectively. One may want to ask the shopper how they are feeling, why they shop so much, how their relationships are going and if they feel depressed. Also, asking them about medical history, previous diagnoses and medications may point to the problem.

As with harsher and more severe addictions, shopping disorder may need to be approached pragmatically and with sensitivity so as not to place the shopper on the defensive. A good way to do this is to help them realize what they are doing is not going to help them by letting them realize the costs assuming they don't have an infinite supply of money. 

Shopping disorder is now a recognized problem in the field of psychology. While the disorder is not in the same class as diseases, addictions and neuro-chemical imbalances, it can be symptomatic of a more chronic or problematic psychological condition. As with any disorder the steps involved in dealing with it are identification, acceptance, and choosing to deal with it. Sometimes this process can be taxing on family and friends but it can be achieved through friendship, compassion and the help of trained professionals who are experienced and knowledgeable with the disorder and others like it.
1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1805733/
2) http://tinyurl.com/m3bfz5
3) http://www.rediff.com/getahead/2004/sep/08ga-shop.htm