There’s no greater feeling at the end of each month in going for some shopping therapy and spending some of your hard-earned cash. However, if you feel an overwhelming and constant compulsion to shop and spend - no matter the financial consequences - you could be suffering from oniomania, also known as pathological buying, compulsive buying disorder and buying addiction.
As with any form of addiction, oniomania is a way of dealing with negative emotions, whether associated with work pressure, a family conflict or even a past trauma. Left untreated, these emotions can develop into serious mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and low self-esteem.
Did you know that shopping can help to repress these emotions? Shopping releases feel-good hormones in the brain such as dopamine which produces short-lived feelings of pleasure and elation, and it’s these feelings that addicts crave. So, while we all love the instant ‘high’ and ‘mood boost’ we feel when treating ourselves or others to something new, it’s important to highlight how in the absence of any self-control or financial considerations, this repetitive behaviour will only spiral out of control and have serious repercussions for relationships, family-life, work, finances and your emotional wellbeing.
Often, friends or family members can spot the signs of shopping addiction before the individual with the addiction is aware of it. Here are some common signs and symptoms to look out for in yourself and others:
- You experience an instant improvement in mood – albeit a temporary euphoria – against a background of stress, pressure or other negative experiences occurring in life
- You frequently exceed budgets when shopping and are suffering financial problems as a direct result
- You often shop impulsively, not because you need or want certain items, but simply because you feel an overwhelming compulsion to do so
- You experience a sense of shame or guilt about how much you have spent or how many items you have purchased
- You hide or throw away items that you have purchased as a way of concealing your shopping from friends or family members
- You continue to shop even when you know that it is financially unwise for you to do so
- You try but fail to limit the frequency of your shopping trips or the amount of money that you spend
- You spend a disproportionate amount of time scrolling through online shopping sites/ using shopping apps, at the expense of family time, your social life and work commitments
- You constantly feel the need to reward yourself and others by purchasing lavish and over-extravagant gifts
- Your relationship with your partner/loved ones is increasingly strained as a result of you shopping habit
Take heart as there are many other activities that can release a ‘hit’ of feel good chemicals. Mandeep recommends sufferers consider these the next time they are feeling vulnerable and at risk of making a purchase:
- Physical activity - a run or even a brisk walk in the fresh air will help clear you mind from worries and unhelpful thoughts and help you to re-energise
- Listening to music that makes you feel good – a great way to ‘switch off’ the mind and help the body to relax
- A good self-care regime – a massage is a great way to unwind and promotes a sense of relaxation and well-being
- A good night’s sleep – a lack of sleep can seriously exacerbate mental ill health
- Eating a balanced diet – a diet, which is rich in vegetables, fruit, nuts, fish, lean meat and olive oil, has been proven to actually improve mental ill health
For more information, please visit www.priorgroup.ae