It’s normal to cave in to the occasional impulse buy - like, snapping up a suddenly irresistible leather jacket in a store window. But about 6% of the population is addicted to shopping and consistently spends more than they can afford. Psychologists call it Compulsive Buying Disorder, and – just like gambling or binge eating – it can cause emotional and financial distress.
So, here are the warning signs that you, or someone you love, could be a shopaholic:
- You have mountains of unopened packages, and clothing with the tags still on. Experts point out that shopaholics get a rush of excitement simply from the act of BUYING things - not from using them. And compulsive buying expert April Benson says that shopaholics get a surge of pleasure chemicals in the same areas of the brain as drug addicts do when they take their drug.
- After every argument, you grab your wallet and head for the mall.A lot of people get a mood boost from shopping. But shopping every time you have strong negative feelings can be a sign of more-serious emotional problems.
- You’re hiding your behavior. Addiction specialist Dr. Ruth Engs says hiding purchases, or juggling accounts to keep your family from finding out what you’re buying – or how much you’re spending - is no different than hiding booze or stashing drugs.