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Do You Shop When You’re Sad? [AUDIO]

Shopping
Dan Kitwood, Getty Images

It’s not unusual. But, for 10 percent of the population, that shopping becomes an addiction in an attempt to fill a void of sadness, loneliness and emptiness.

While a majority of shopping addicts are women, the internet has led to a growing number of men suffering with the addiction.

“There are various reasons why people get into excessive behavior. We do know that sadness, loneliness, unresolved grief and loss and filling a void is a very common way in which people can gravitate to almost any kind of addiction,” said Terrence Shulman, founder and director of The Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft, Spending and Hoarding. “Nowadays, you don’t have to go to the store when you’re lonely or sad. You can turn on your tv or computer and shop right from your home.”

“What people basically are looking to do is to change the way they’re feeling inside. They’re trying to alter their mood and they think if they make certain purchases that it will lift their spirits or it will anchor them and they will have things that are tangible. But, what they find is that when the items are delivered, they’re often not even interested in opening the boxes,” said Dr. Harris Stratyner, Vice President of Caron Treatment Center.

How do you know when your shopping has crossed the line into an addiction?

“You’re looking for negative consequences. If you’re having problems paying bills, if you have debt, if you’re buying things you’re not even using, hoarding, cluttering, if you’re losing lost time and energy because you’re spending so much time shopping, you may have a problem,” said Shulman. “If there is any kind of secrecy where you’re having to hide what you’re doing, if you feel like you’re living a double life, if it’s affecting your sleep and eating habits, these are the kinds of things we often see.”

There is help available.

“Sometimes you can reveal the root of what’s causing the addiction, but the behavior is still there. I try to get people to change the way they think. With shopping addictions, purchasing items and owning things isn’t going to make them feel better. I literally restructure the way they think which interferes with the negative behavior and then, by not acting on that negative behavior, they reinforce new ways of thinking,” said Dr. Stratyner.

“It’s always about more than just the stuff,” said Shulman.

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