Shopping addiction can be a mental disorder

Shopping addiction can be a mental disorder

The younger generation is more likely to have an obsessive need to spend on new things. Experts are calling for this to be classified as a mental disorder.

In the 2009 smash hit ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’, based on a book by Sophie Kinsella, the lead character cutely admits to having a problem when her shopping bills went above the head.

Cut to 2018 and excessive shopping bills don’t seem so harmless anymore. A recent study conducted by Hannover Medical School is calling for compulsive shopping disorder to be recognised as a mental illness. 

This compulsive buying disorder, termed ‘oniomania’, has been seen in some form or the other in 7 per cent of adults with numbers in the US and Europe rising. 


What is it?

Do you feel this urge to buy something new whenever you are sad or bored or lonely? Do you buy things you don’t really need, knowing full well that you will regret it later?

(No, we are not judging you at all. In fact, we are looking for kindred souls who will share the misery this latest study is causing us.) 

This urge to spend is what experts are calling for to be flagged as mental illness. They are of the opinion that this condition is often associated with psychological, social or mood disorders as well as financial problems.

Dr Rizwana Begum, director, Aviva Psychological Clinic, says this destructive behavioural addiction is influenced by age and gender. “The younger lot are more prone to this. Poor self-esteem is a factor which causes people to develop this syndrome,” she notes.  


What are the symptoms?

Dr Rizwana lists out some of the symptoms that can be signs of this disorder—

Preoccupied with shopping and thinking of buying things all the time

Spending more than you can afford

Feeling angry or depressed when you can’t buy something or have to reschedule your purchase

Harming relationships; ties become secondary to such people

Losing control of oneself

Shopping to cope with stress — currently shopping has actually become a sort of coping mechanism for many

Stealing and lying to continue shopping



What triggers this?

The reasons for this range from increasing levels of loneliness among the younger generation, a need to look good in public and peer pressure on social media, higher levels of earning and so on. 

While many young shoppers admit to spending excessively on branded things, this disorder itself is not classist.

You could be having oniomania even if you compulsively shop for items like stationery, shoes, kitchen accessories, hair clips and so on. As they said, it’s the thought that counts!


What are the consequences?

Feelings of guilt, shame and anxiety after the shopping is done. This can lead to depression later on. Financial crisis and broken relationships are long-term consequences of this. 


What do they say?

“I often end up buying things I don’t need. The entire process of surfing through websites and looking at the products on offer or flipping through clothes at a store makes me very happy; especially after a long day at work. Credit cards come to my rescue by the end of the month,” says a young MNC professional who doesn’t wish to be named.

The promotional messages and mails that flood your inboxes can weaken your self-control and lead you to splurge. Recently, addiction to digital and video gaming has also been classified as a mental health disorder by the World Health Organisation in its new International Classification of Diseases.


What can you do?

Research is still going on so medication and other solutions are unclear. Talking to loved ones seems to be the only sure-fire way as of now.


Did you know?

Recently, addiction to digital and video gaming has also been classified as a mental health disorder by the World Health Organisation in its new International Classification of Diseases.

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