Picture the stereotypical shopaholic: A well-dressed young woman loaded down on both arms with shopping bags, scouring the mall for sales and deals. In reality, shopaholics can be any age or gender. In fact, a study conducted in 2006 by Standford University finds the number of male and female shopaholics in the U.S to be nearly the same. In extreme cases, a shopaholic's addiction can interfere with his personal and professional life. Considering this, its understandable that mental issues can easily be found behind shopaholic behaviour.
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Stress and Anxiety
In the book-turned-movie "Confessions of a Shopaholic," the main character's habitual shopping causes her a lot of anxiety, which in turn drives her to do more shopping to relieve the stress of being in debt. The demands of every day life can drive a shopaholic to seek distraction in the act of shopping, though dealing with stress in this way can lead to more stress in the long run.
Shopaholics spend money on impulse, without really thinking about the possible consequences. Impulsiveness can be a personality trait, and in more extreme cases, it can be a symptom of a mental illness. A shopaholic's impulsiveness may also show in other areas of their lives, such as with their emotions or when making work-related decisions.
Shopaholics can also suffer from depression. A study conducted in Paris, France showed that anywhere between 50 too 100 per cent of compulsive shoppers suffer from a mood disorder. For some people, shopping induces chemicals in the brain that create a feeling of well-being and happiness. Since the feeling is only temporary, it's natural for a shopaholic to seek that thrill over and over again.
Low Self Esteem
Compulsive buying is also thought to stem from low self-esteem and insecurity. Shopping can be a way for shopaholics to compensate for their low self image and feelings of inadequacy, since they may not know how to fulfil their emotional needs otherwise.
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- The American Journal of Psychiatry: "Estimated Prevalence of Compulsive Buying Behavior in the United States;" Koran, Lorrin. 2006.
- US News Money- Alpha Consumer: "5 Reasons to See Confessions of a Shopaholic;" Palmer, Kimberly. 2009.
- "The American Journal of Psychiatry: "Psychiatric Aspects of Impulsivity." Moeller, F. Gerard. 2001.
- Refdoc: "Study of compulsive buying in depressed patients;" Lejoeux, M. 1997.