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The 7 Warning Signs of Shopping Addiction

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Author: Shernide Delva

Shopping can be an exhilarating experience. The euphoria of having something new to wear in your closet or a brand new tool to use in the garage can be a natural mood booster. However, if abused, shopping can develop into an addiction.

A group of researchers at the University of Bergen have developed a new method to measure shopping addiction. The method is based on the core addiction elements that we often recognize associated with other addictions. It’s the first method of its kind to identify key elements that point to shopping addiction behavior.

When Shopping Gets Out of Control

Shopping can quickly escalate into a problem when a person feels a compulsive need to shop even when they do not need to. Cecile Schou Andreassen. Doctor of Psychology and Clinical Psychologist Specialist describes why shopping addiction is so out of control for many today.

“Modern technology has made shopping extremely accessible and convenient, with the potential of sending problematic shopping into overdrive — especially along with sociocultural factors such as social media, credit cards, and advanced marketing,”

The increase in modern technology affects shopping addiction because there is no turning off the temptation to fall into the addictive cycle again.

More predominant in women

Not to anyone’s surprise, the study shows that women are more prone to shopping addiction than males. It also is initiated in late adolescent and emerging adulthood. Typically shopping addiction tapers off with age.

Doctor Andreassen´s research also shows that shopping addiction is related to key personality traits.

“Our research indicates that people who score high on extroversion and neuroticism are more at risk of developing shopping addiction. Extroverts, typically being social and sensation seeking may be using shopping to express their individuality or enhance their social status and personal attractiveness. Neurotic people, who typically are anxious, depressive, and self-conscious, may use shopping as a means of reducing their negative feelings,”

The Seven Warning Signs

Symptoms of shopping addiction are closely related to the symptoms of drug addiction, alcoholism, and other substance addictions.

The Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale uses seven basic criteria to identify shopping addiction, where all items are scored on the following scale: (0) Completely disagree, (1) Disagree, (2) Neither disagree nor agree, (3) Agree, and (4) Completely agree:

  1. You think about shopping/buying things all the time.
    Do you find your mind wandering to what new item you will buy next? Do you spend a good portion of your day daydreaming about your next new outfit or the latest brand? If you do, you may be suffering from shopping addiction
  2. You shop/buy things in order to change your mood.
    If you find yourself shopping when you are angry, sad or happy, you might be shopping in order to cope with your emotions. This could be a sign of an addiction since your using something as a way to alter your emotional state.
  3. You shop/buy so much that it negatively affects your daily obligations (e.g., school and work).
    Shopping addiction can affect your ability to go to work or meet up with friends due to always spending a majority of your time thinking about shopping or compulsively shopping. Think about the last time you canceled plans to shop. That’s a sign of an underlying problem.
  4. You feel you have to shop/buy more and more to obtain the same satisfaction as before.
    If you find that you buy more and more items to increase your satisfaction, you may be developing a tolerance. When you develop a tolerance, more is needed for you to have the mood boosting response that kept you going back in the first place.
  5. You have decided to shop/buy less, but have not been able to do so.
    If you know you have a problem and cannot stop, this is a serious sign that you are far into your addiction. Like any addiction, your shopping addiction has completely consumed you and stopping is impossible even if you want to.
  6. You feel bad if you for some reason are prevented from shopping/buying things.
    If financially you are not able to go shopping, you find yourself depressed and angry. You feel bad that you are not able to get what you want when you want it
  7. You shop/buy so much that it has impaired your well-being.
    If shopping has impaired the quality of your life, affected friendships and relationships then it is definitely time to seek treatment

The study explains that if you “agree” or “completely” agree on at least four out of seven of the items listed, you may be a shopping addict.

We all love nice things but shopping compulsively is an addictive behavior that needs to be addressed. Seek treatment if you are unable to control your shopping habits.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135  


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