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How to keep compulsive shopping at bay, especially at Christmas time

Party atmosphere, joy in the air, shop windows full of lights that attract with their vibrant offerings of glitter and colors. The thought is more than ever to give and treat yourself to something beautiful, amazing and absolutely deserved this Christmas 2021, given that the last one, that of 2020, we have practically not lived it properly. And so the rush to buy, also thanks to the intoxicating atmosphere, seems normal to us, justified. But when, from simple enthusiasm, theimpulse to buy turns into pathological?

A scene from the film I Love Shopping

«When it interferes with the shopper’s well-being and affects their normal activities, work and relationships. Having a hard time resisting buying new items, even when you don’t need them, is an important first sign that a problem is emerging. Uncontrolled shopping can have major consequences in people’s lives: it can lead to debt or overspending and provoke a sense of guilt and remorse. People with this disorder experience what is known as a “buyer’s high,” which is that wave of happiness or excitement that comes with a new purchase. When feeling sad, anxious, or stressed, compulsive shoppers tend to mask these feelings by buying new items. Alone learning to recognize the symptoms of compulsive shopping, and by intervening in time, the buyer can avoid getting trapped in this degenerative vicious circle “, explains Aída Rubio, Director of the Psychology Service in TherapyChat.

In short, when compulsive shopping becomes a pathology, also known as shopaholism or compulsive buying syndrome, is a real impulse control disorder ‘Which shares several similarities with substance addiction. For example the craving, that is, that inordinate and irresistible desire to go shopping, and withdrawal symptoms, which occur when the person cannot make purchases »explains Dr. Giuseppe Iannone of Guidapsicologi.it.

Advertising, fashion and social networks, then, greatly influence the desire to buy and our needs. Research conducted by the Copenhagen Business School revealed that as many as 95% of our purchases are driven by unwitting decisions, impulses or habits. Those involved in selling are familiar with these mechanisms and can use them to increase sales, which multiply at Christmas.

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“Furthermore, thea possibility to make online purchases contributes to exacerbate the phenomenon. More and more people, especially after Covid, buy online, use apps dedicated to shopping or participate in web auctions “, says the psychologist. It should also be emphasized that theo Compulsive shopping is much more common among women than among men. In Italy, it is estimated that 6% of the general population suffers from it.

But is it possible to recover a healthy relationship with shopping? «Recognizing the symptoms is the first step in distinguishing pathological behavior from healthy one. Being aware that you have this disorder allows the person to ask for help. Psychological and psychotherapeutic interventions aim to identify the contexts in which the phenomenon tends to occur, to recognize the antecedents that trigger compulsive buying behavior (such as negative emotions) and to explore alternative ways of spending one’s time. Financial counseling and self-help groups (such as Debtors Anonymous) are also important for shopaholism sufferers. Finally, leaving the ATM at home when you go out, staying away from home with a limited amount of cash or being in company are behaviors that can help to curb the tendency to overspend ”, concludes Dr. Giuseppe Iannone.

In the gallery, five other tips to get through Christmas without falling into the risks of
compulsive shopping according to TherapyChat experts.

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