Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Shopping and You

I love a good sale...and really, who doesn't? They can be so seductive. I find online shopping particularly enticing and easy. Sometimes dangerously easy. You click a little icon and "buy it now" or add it to your virtual shopping cart. It sometimes doesn't feel like real money being spent. Until the very real credit card bills come!

Shopping addiction is not an official, full fledged psychiatric condition, but it can be a serious problem with similarities to other addictions. The high is fleeting and the shopper is never satisfied. Shopping that is compulsive and out-of-control frequently results in negative consequences like debt.

Shopping problems are under recognized in our capitalistic, consumer-driven society. The media--and even some of our highest ranking politicians have encouraged us to engage in a little "retail therapy" in tough times. Certainly shopping can be fun, but where is the line between fun and compulsive buying and spending?

For everyone the answer is a little different, but if your spending/shopping habits are negatively impacting your life then it is time to STOP. Reflect on what is going on with you emotionally. Is the shopping distracting you from other areas of your life that need work? Are you using it as a way to cope with uncomfortable feelings? Addictions have this hallmark.

If you feel like you may have a problem then talk to a trusted friend, family member, or a therapist. Discussing the issue with someone may give you perspective and start the process of change. Take steps to curb your spending, such as making a specific shopping list and committing to buy only what is on the list. Pay for items only with cash (it hurts more). Get to know your triggers. If you stay up late at night and watch the home shopping channel, you are probably setting yourself up to fail. Consider some lifestyle changes that will make you spending habits healthier.
Also check out Debtors Anonymous for additional resources and support.


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