Just like drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling addiction, and compulsive eating, shopping addiction affects women and men. Although you may not think of men as shoppers like women (stereotype!), shopping addiction issues are increasing among men in our society.
It seems that because of the stigma surrounding shopping, fewer men than women come forward to admit a problem and to seek treatment for uncontrollable shopping behaviors. A similar stigma is also true in the case of eating disorders. Men appear to feel more shame around these types of addictions or disorders than women do, and then most men feel around alcoholism or a sex addiction.
So what constitutes a shopping addiction? Well, “compulsive shopping” and “compulsive buying” involve chronic episodes in which the individual experiences an inability to control his or her shopping or buying behavior.
An occasional splurge is common among most people, and does not necessarily indicate a shopping addiction, but when the urge to splurge, and to shop in general becomes more frequent and constant, the existence of a shopping addiction needs to be explored. When the desire to shop and buy starts taking away from time spent working, enjoying other activities, or spending time with loved ones, the behavior has interfered with everyday functioning, and may be clinically diagnosable at that point.
Have you ever been feeling sad, or insecure for whatever reason, and you really wanted to go shopping? To browse and find something to spend money on because you feel like it will make you feel better? When you find something that’s maybe out of your normal price range, and you really shouldn’t be spending that kind of money right now, but you buy it anyway, does that purchase make you feel better? Usually no, right? You may feel a bit of a euphoria, or a high, from getting something that is brand new and that you love, but that effect wears off quite quickly and you are either brought back to neutral, or you are still sad or feeling less than confident. Compulsive shoppers and compulsive spenders experience this cycle over and over again.
The American Journal of Psychiatry reports that 1 in 20 people living in the United States, suffer from the symptoms and behaviors of compulsive shopping.
Women have been more recognized as engaging in shopping behaviors, but the prevalence of this behavior is increasing among men. It seems a part of the gender misconception is that men tend to buy more “practical” items that have higher costs, whereas women seem to buy less expensive items more frequently. The types of items purchased are typically different. Female shopping addicts tend to buy personal and home items (clothing, makeup, shoes, bags, jewelry, decorations) while male shopping addicts tend to buy electronics, tech items, car gadgets, athletic gear, and overall bigger ticket items. Is there a difference though?
As shopping addiction issues increase among men in our country, the importance in understanding the disorder becomes more obvious. Like any other addiction, the possibility of an addiction exists for everyone. The psychological component of a shopping addiction is the same for men and women. Many experts in the field site a lack of emotional comfort in childhood, a need to gain control, difficulty or complete inability to tolerate difficult emotions (fear, anger, sadness, loneliness, depression, boredom, etc.), perfectionism, excitement or approval seeking, an innate propensity for impulsive and compulsive behavior, and a lifelong or long-term desire to fill an empty inner void as reasons for the development of compulsive shopping or buying, and a shopping addiction.
If you can relate to this, or you can see these qualities in someone you love, seeking treatment is important. Like drug addiction, the sooner the diagnosis can be made, the sooner the symptoms of shopping addiction can be treated. Don’t let gender be a factor in getting the help that’s needed.
Contact The Control Center to find out how their behavioral addiction treatment program can work for you!