Many of us have had the urge just to go shopping and treat ourselves to the finer things of life. Those great pair of heels that matches your eyes going at a discount price in the retail store, or that tennis ball and racket you have purchased in hopes that it would motivate you to take up tennis as a sport are just a few examples of our pleasurable buying.
When does this source of pleasure become an addiction and even be a cause of distress to us and those around us? In this article, we would be reviewing the concept of compulsive buying and how it becomes a disorder, its effects, and how to seek help and care for those affected by it.
To understand and seek the appropriate care necessary, we should know what exactly we are dealing with. According to the Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, buying and shopping may become more of a bit of a disorder when there is continual, excessive, repetitive purchasing, which can often result in mental, social, occupational, and even legal problems. The American Psychiatric Association has proposed Compulsive Buying Disorder as an impulse control disorder, behavioral addiction, or even a type of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. However, researches are still underway about its nature and treatments.
Compulsive Buying Disorder has been called many names; Compulsive shopping, Buying Disorder, Compulsive spending, Shopaholism, Oniomania. They are distinct, and not all connote the full extent of Compulsive Buying Disorder. While Oniomania and Buying disorder may be synonymous with Compulsive Buying Disorder, Compulsive shopping, and Compulsive spending are different behaviors. As one may shop without purchase and in the same vein, one may buy without shopping. One may spend but not necessarily on shopping; hope we have not lost you on that explanation?
In summary, Compulsive Buying Disorder is excessive or obsessive buying and shopping behavior, which causes distress to the affected and those around them.
Shopping is an everyday activity such as drinking, dancing, and eating. So, it could be pretty difficult to isolate or pinpoint when such action is inching on the edge of addiction. Luckily, experts in psychology and psychiatry have provided us with features that could help in recognizing its pattern and allow for treatment to commence as soon as possible. The features of Compulsive Buying Disorder are
It is essential that the episodes of compulsive buying cannot be explained by any other medical condition and did not occur in any period of mania. It, however, tends to coexist in individuals who have a history of substance overuse, eating disorder, anxiety, and mood disorders.
So, if you find out that you or your loved one tick all the boxes above, now is not the time to fret. BetterHelp not only do provide a means to educate, but also provide help for those who seek it. It is just in the click of your finger. But before you do that, please hold on as we provide you more reliable information on how to combat Compulsive Buying Disorder.
While some people could be hearing this term for the first time, it is a reality for some others, and research published by Front Psychiatry in 2011 found that 6% of the adult population of the United States of America is said to be affected with compulsive buying. This has been largely influenced by the accessibility to online shopping, materialism, industrialization, and the relative ease in which consumers can purchase their items. Just with a swipe of your credit card, you can buy what you want these days, no bottlenecks, no stress.
More women than men, according to some clinical surveys, have been shown to be affected and tend to be more in treatment-seeking centers. However, some population-based studies have not found any significant gender difference in its prevalence, as most women acknowledge their compulsive shopping habits than men. Men who are compulsive buyers tend to refer to themselves as collectors or hoarders.
Irrespective of socioeconomic status, Compulsive Buying Disorder tends to affect the poor and rich alike, but the level of economic, personal, social, and mental hardship may differ from one individual to another. It commonly manifests in persons in their early 20s, and some texts say from the second to the fourth decade of life.
There are a variety of reasons why people shop. Our world today makes shopping almost too easy, and we see phrases like, ‘Shop till you drop’, ‘Unhappy, buy those jeans today’, being used in various marketing of those products to get us to purchase them. It is common that we would most people, in search of the happiness or pleasure these items promise, tend to keep purchasing them just because of the satisfaction they bring.
The cause of compulsive buying is multifactorial and could be linked to a host of factors. Some of them include:
Other factors which could explain the emergence of compulsive buying disorder include:
It is important to know that with the above, the individual’s goal is immediate happiness and satisfaction when they purchase. Commonly associated with the causes are emotions and certain behavioral adaptations to this unhealthy lifestyle that tends to make it more difficult to be discovered on time and treated. Some of them include:
Treating Compulsive Buying Disorder
It is not always easy to acknowledge that one has a problem and even be willing to go through the appropriate steps towards seeking help, so that alone is a huge step and deserves all the congratulations. That is the first step to healing and getting better, which the other psychopharmacological therapies hinge on.
Compulsive Buying Disorder is a new but prevalent condition that is slowly creeping into our society. It spread out nature has been linked to the relative ease of consumerism, especially in developed countries, thanks to online shopping. Individuals with buying disorders often get pleasure from purchase with distress personally and functionally.
You can learn more about Compulsive Buying Disorder and possible ways to identify its symptoms early by checking out other articles on the subject or related topics. Should you have questions or clarifications on the subject or other related subjects, you can also schedule an appointment with competent mental health professionals at BetterHelp.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)
Just like drinking addiction, shopping can be an addiction, and it is quite a serious behavioral disorder. It is called Compulsive Buying Disorder. Individuals with this condition tend to have irresistible and uncontrollable urges to buy, which eventually goes on to be a source of distress to themselves and those around them. It is a progressive and chronic disorder, and most people affected may not notice its effect on time, until they are deep in debt or have been neglected by a loved due to its negative effects.
First, compulsive buyers are addicted to shopping and buying. Their major source of thrill is from getting the item to purchase and then buying it.
Secondly, do you find yourself in a constant state of anticipation for your next buy that you track of time and focus on whatever job you have at hand? This is called preoccupation with shopping, and most people that are diagnosed with compulsive buying disorder have it.
Thirdly, the stages or patterns to compulsive buying. So far, there are four of them.
It is a creeping condition that is progressive as well as detrimental if left untreated. If you feel at risk or are concerned about a loved one is susceptible to this condition, try to find out the following from them:
Answering yes to most of the questions posed above are notable warning bells, which could mean that the individual is at risk for compulsive buying disorder.
They can be compulsive buyers too. A compulsive buyer does not necessarily have to buy expensive items. They could buy at places where prices are lower or on sale.
For those affected with compulsive buying, some may purchase enough items that could easily earn them the title ‘hoarder’. According to the journal of anxiety disorders, 61 percent of hoarders meet the requirement for compulsive buying disorder. However, subtle differences do exist between a compulsive buyer and a hoarder.
The main focus of pleasure for a compulsive buyer is in purchasing, while for a hoarder, it is in the acquisition. Most compulsive buyers have an underlying emotional or psychological issue, which drives them to seek the euphoria that buying brings usually, they have no emotional attachment to the item being purchased; whilst for a hoarder, they tend to go for items that have had some sentimental value to them. Compulsive buyers tend to either flaunt, hide, or even burn their purchase, but a hoarder accumulates these items until there is little to no space in their home.
Although some studies show women are more compulsive shoppers than men, this does not say that only women are compulsive buyers. More recent studies have even found that the ratio of female to male compulsive buyers is slightly similar. Most men refer to themselves as collectors rather than those who are addicted to shopping, but most people seeking treatment for this condition are women.
Even more so, are other risk factors of compulsive buying, which are not gender-specific, such as approval-seeking behavior, personality disorders, and so on.
The negative effects of compulsive buying go beyond financial constraints. There are a host of complications and consequences that could arise from shopping addiction. Some of them include:
Despite the negative effect, both short term and long term, Compulsive buyers cannot stop on their own. That is why for therapy and treatment to be effective, they would need a multidimensional approach. Those who could manage to stop their shopping habits from sheer force of will power alone do not have compulsive buying disorder.
Compulsive buying is more than just buying a lot of clothes, shoes, gadgets; it is an addiction that incorporates obsessive-compulsive elements, poor impulse control, and dysfunctional stress management with underlying psychological issues. Hence, asking the individual to stop on their own without seeking the advice and expertise of professionals could be unfair and rarely successful on their road to recovery.
With the help of the professionals, support groups, family and peers, and the individual in question, compulsive buying can be adequately managed and treated.