Shopping addiction is similar to other addictions. Shopping addicts become preoccupied with spending, and they devote significant amounts of time planning and carrying out the activity. Shopping becomes highly ritualized beginning with thoughts about shopping, planning shopping trips, and the shopping act itself. The individual describes the behavior as pleasurable and sometimes even intensely pleasurable and provides relief from negative feelings such as depression, anxiety, anger, boredom, self-critical thoughts, and loneliness. However, as with any addiction, the “high” is short-lived. After the act of spending, the shopper experiences the let-down and enters a phase of despair accompanied with feelings of sadness and disappointment, particularly with the him/herself. To relieve these feelings, the process starts all over.
Behaviors of a shopping addiction may include but are not limited to:
- Compulsive shopping
- Buying expensive items to obtain or maintain image
- Bargain shopping
- Shopping with others
- Shopping compulsively for collectors items
- Shopping for excessive accessories
- Compulsive spending via television shopping networks
- Shopping for others to obtain or gain love and approval
- Maxed out credit cards
- Secret credit cards and bank accounts
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