Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Shopping Addiction, a Modern Woman (or Man's) Downfall.

Welcome to part one of my three part series on shopping addiction.  With the holiday season just passed, I'm sure this article will be particularly relevant.
Whilst Christmas is  time for giving, for retailers, this means mass consumption for us poor buyers who are bombarded with more and more messages to buy buy buy!!
Advertising is everywhere, from targeted Facebook ads, online shopping newsletters, TV ads, billboards, magazines, blogs etc.  With so much influence, sometimes the urge to consume can be overwhelming, with some of us simply going too far!!

This three part series will kick off with an overview of shopping addiction and how it's treated, followed by strategies to gain more pleasure from spending (whilst hopefully spending less), followed by some techniques to kick your nasty VISA habit once and for all!!



What is Shopping Addiction!?

Is your Visa bill bigger than your savings account? Do you continuously find yourself eating two minute noodles until your next pay cheque comes and you can afford to live large again?
Fear not, you are not alone! One in 12 Australians report compulsive shopping, also known as Oniomania (Intill, 2004).   Not to sterotype, but research shows that women are more often affected than men.  Oniomania is often a response to feelings of sadness, depression, low self esteem, loneliness or anger. As we feel worse, our urge to spend increases. Have you found that post shopping binge, those same feelings return? Whilst spending may relieve painful emotions short term, the job of shopping is a temporary fix only.  Those negative feelings often return, intensified….especially when this is coupled with a large credit card bill or poor financial choices.  

Why is purchasing such a pleasurable experience?  Why do some people have more trouble controlling the urge to purchase than others?  Biological components are also at play.  
Dr Joshua Buckholtz (2011) showed that people with high concentrations of the neurotransmitter Dopamine were more likely to engage in compulsive behaviour, such as overspending and even behaviours such as gambling and drug use.  Dopamine, a neurotransmitter present in all healthy brains, is associated with "reward" and high levels may cause individuals to seek reinforcement through negative behaviours.  The implications of this are that compulsive spenders may also engage in other compulsive behaviours such as overeating or risky.  

How is shopping addiction treated?  
Psychological treatment focuses on helping people with shopping addictions to change their behaviour patterns.  This involves looking at the underlying feelings or thoughts that drive the spending, and then helping to address and change those thoughts and feelings.
Treatment may also involve helping to replace shopping with more positive behaviours and building alternative coping strategies.  
Anti-depressant medication may also be utilised if compulsive shopping stems from underlying depression.  Some anti-depressants may also assist in reduce impulsivity, which also may be a factor underlying compulsive shopping.  



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