Different types of "shopaholics"

  • Compulsive shoppers: Buying when they are feeling emotional distress.
  • Trophy shoppers: They are always looking for the next great item.
  • Flashy shoppers: They desire the attention that comes with having nice, new things.
  • Bargain shoppers: They purchase things through sale, even if they don't need or desire it.
  • Bulimic shoppers: They continually buy and return items.
  • Collective shoppers: They find emotional value and wholeness in having a complete set of things.
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  • A preoccupation with shopping for unneeded items, taking you away from daily responsibilities such as work duties and home life.
  • Spending much of your time shopping or doing intense research on items you wish to buy.
  • Extreme difficulty resisting the urge to purchase something, even if it's not needed or desired.
  • An elevated sense of self-worth or euphoria when making purchases.
  • Continuing a shopping spree or unnecessary purchasing despite negative consequences such as debt or financial trouble.
  • Problems at work or with loved ones due to your uncontrollable shopping urges.
  • Deep satisfaction and calm state after making a purchase.

Up to 6% of the population suffers from shopping compulsion or addiction.

When you consider a new purchase, you're anticipating a reward.
Once the purchase is made, the reward pathway of your brain lights up, and dopamine floods your system. Once it wears off, you crave it again. That is why it makes sense that we shop for celebrating and for feeling good.

Addiction describes trying something, becoming emotionally and physically dependent on it, and then becoming psychologically and physically addicted to it. People who struggle with addiction have explained feeling euphoric, elevated, happy, complete, and whole when they partake in their addiction. Compulsion refers to a specific, intense urge to do something. People who struggle with a compulsion explain feeling immense relief and relaxation from completing behaviors that they feel compelled to do.
Socially acceptable

Shopping can be socially acceptable because consumerism is continually pushed on us in the forms of posters, adverts, and signs.

Shopping is also a way of life: You need food and clothing from stores. Even if you try to stop compulsive buying by avoiding the stores in person, there is still a world of online shopping.

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A compulsive behavior

It involves actions a person feels driven to do over and over again.

Compulsive actions may appear to be irrational or pointless, but the individuals may feel incapable of stopping themselves.

Shopping Addiction

Compulsive shopping is when chronic, repetitive buying habits have serious consequences and become a disorder, similar to drug addiction. Conscious spending is one of ways we can overcome this emotional need to buy stuff.

An inability to handle money effectively and lack of impulse control makes us spend like crazy. Our emotions take over and we feel comfort in spending, and we unconsciously spend on stuff we don’t need, creating a vicious circle of debt followed by further compulsive spending.

Rewards and dopamine

Our brains compute 3 things about reward: how much will we get, how soon will we get it, and how certain are we that we will in fact get it. 

And it’s when the probability of a reward hovers at around 50% that dopamine flow is maximal. When the probability of getting it is as high as the probability of not getting it — the point of maximum uncertainty. That’s what turns us on the most.

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