Online Shopping Addiction Should Be Recognised As A Mental Health Condition, Say Experts

BY Harper's BAZAAR U.K. / Nov 13 2019 / 12:40 PM

A study has linked it with an increase in depression and anxiety

Online Shopping Addiction Should Be Recognised As A Mental Health Condition, Say Experts

There's a fine line between having a love of online shopping, and having an addiction to it. And according to psychotherapists, an addiction to buying goods off the internet should be classified as a mental health condition.

The term BSD - which stands for 'buying-shopping disorder' - has long been in existence, but as the digital age facilitates shopping at the drop of a hat (or the tap of a button), experts warn that it is "taking on a new meaning", according to a Mail Online report.

"It really is time to recognise BSD as separate mental health condition and to accumulate further knowledge about BSD on the Internet," Dr Astrid Müller, a psychotherapist at Hannover Medical School in Germany, told the publication.

In a small study published in the Comprehensive Psychiatry journal, Müller researched the condition, analysing 122 patients who had sought help for their online shopping addictions. What emerged was a higher-than-usual rate of depression and anxiety among those who were addicted to buying online.

With shops now largely being '24-hour' due to the nature of websites and apps facilitating purchases at any time of day (or night), the experts fear online BSD is becoming increasingly common.

Getty Images/Abdoudz

BSD is not currently recognised as a disorder in its own right, but instead as part of a wider category called 'other specified impulse control disorder'. This is known to have serious mental effects, according to the German researchers.

The condition works in a cycle of having extreme cravings to purchase, which feeds off a feeling of satisfaction when money is spent. Health website Very Well Mind describes the characteristics of an addiction to shopping as a "preoccupation with shopping for unneeded items", "spending a great deal of time doing research on coveted items and/or shopping for unneeded items", and "difficulty resisting the purchase of unneeded items".

The risks, as with any addiction, are great; debt, loss of self-control, and de-prioritisation of fundamental things like family and work being just some.

"We hope that our results showing that the prevalence of addictive online shopping among treatment-seeking patients with BSD will encourage future research... and specific treatment concepts," said psychotherapist Dr Müller.

From Harper's Bazaar U.K.