Compulsive Shopping Can Be Especially Problematic During the Holidays

Experts say shopping actually taps into our hunter-gatherer makeup.

Tis the season to go shopping.

“During the holidays, very stressful. It’s not fun, especially when you don’t have enough money,” said shopper Caroline Bailon.

Experts say shopping actually taps into our hunter-gatherer makeup. So for many of us it’s a mood lifter.

“I love shopping, love, love shopping. Because it feels good,” said Stephany Carvajal.

Jonathan Sanders likes to keep it short and to the point.

“When it comes to me I enjoy it because I only come for a couple of things and then I leave,” he said.

However, for a surprising number of people shopping is not just a pleasure it can actually be a problem.

The label compulsive shoppers applies to five to eight percent of consumers in the U.S. and  between 80 to 95 percent are women.

“Shopping compulsion is just like any other addiction. You’re using that same brain pathway. The dopamine pathway that we do know becomes highly addictive,” said Miami Beach psychiatrist Dr. Eva Ritvo.

Shopaholics Anonymous has a checklist of possible warning signs including: Do you feel a rush of euphoria mixed with anxiety when you shop?  Do you lie about your purchases and how much you spend? Are many items seldom or never used?

Ritvo adds this type of compulsions “tends to strike in the late teens early twenties when people are developing economic freedom, trying to figure out where that line is between what they should buy and what they shouldn’t buy.”

As long as that line isn’t crossed on a regular basis buying can be a good thing when not taken to extremes.

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