Shopping addiction can be an insidious dependency. If we are not harming ourselves financially it can be difficult to accept that shopping is a negative coping behavior. That is exactly what can make it so dangerous: it’s not just that it can ruin our credit; shopping addiction prevents us from coping and healing with our emotional struggles.
Buying for ourselves can be a rush. In nurturing ourselves through purchases, we create good feelings. We deserve those beautiful shower curtains and $2000 worth of new dresses! Shopping can also be a way of dealing with chaos and creating a feeling of control.
Shopping becomes out of control when it evolves into a coping tool and we shop rather than confront our emotions. Like all dependencies, it is not a standalone addiction but a sign of neglected emotional issues. These emotional fissures may start out small but if ignored can become serious mental health issues.
Shopping may be an addiction if you find yourself making many unplanned purchases, frequently purchase things you don’t need, find things with tags still on in your closet, feel guilty after your purchases or conceal your purchases from others. If you find that shopping becomes the primary way with which you deal with problems, a deeper emotional issue is present.
To overcome shopping addiction, identify the triggers that send you running for your favorite stores. Identify the need that shopping fills – is it a need to feel in control? To feel beautiful? To feel significant? Avoid areas that present temptations to shop. When you do go, stick to a list of purchases and think hard about anything else you put in your bags. It can also be helpful to bring only enough cash to purchase what you need.
However, if the emotional issues underlying a shopping problem are serious, treating the symptom will not help. Residential treatment can help discover the need that shopping fills. When women identify the source of their shopping addiction, they can finally recover from the emotional breakage that caused this need for a destructive soothing behavior.