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How to put a stop to online shopping addiction


Shopping addiction, online or off-line, can have harmful effects on a person’s life. This addiction can trigger psychological problems and problems with social relationships.

While compulsive shopping can lead to a number of problems, it is not yet recognized as an addiction or addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). However, with the increase and ease of online shopping in recent years, it has been considered by many professionals as a problem that can lead to other problems. Some scientific studies have observed that compulsive shoppers may have a higher risk of developing other mental illnesses, including gambling addiction, as well as other behavioral addictions, such as sex and the internet.

Online Shopping
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What is the real problem with shopping addiction?

In addition to the monetary issue, shopping addiction represents a serious problem when analyzing the psychological component of the person with the compulsion in question. Several studies indicate that the lack of ability to spend money on online shopping has led to extreme anxiety in some people.

In this sense, it is clear that the problem of online shopping addiction affects not only the wallet but also personal and interpersonal relationships. If, on the one hand, the money spent, and perhaps the creation of successive credits, creates greater indebtedness over time, on the other hand, this compulsion leads to a distance from the closest people. The person with a shopping addiction loses self-control and, consequently, enters into more conflicts with those close to him.

Shopping Smartphone
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Furthermore, as it is not yet widely recognized as a behavioral addiction, compulsive shopping is often self-denied. Not considering that it is a problem, the tendency is to refuse professional help to inhibit compulsive behaviors.

In-person vs online shopping

These days this addition has become increasingly worrying due to the ease of development. With the creation of online stores, available 24 hours a day/7 days a week, the impulse is greater and so is consumption.

Facility and accessibility generate problems in consumption that can start in young people, leading to a greater imbalance in terms of need vs impulse of the moment.

For many, the simple act of logging onto the site and starting to add products to the cart is like a ritual, which resembles obsessive-compulsive disorder behavior. In turn, shopping addiction escalates from the moment the action goes beyond choice and begins to relapse into compulsive purchase of products, which often have no real need on the part of those who buy them.

Online Shopping
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Is it possible to stop online shopping addiction?

As with any other type of mental disorder, it is possible to use mechanisms and strategies to help deal with it. At VillaRamadas we largely use cognitive-behavioral therapy for this type of behavioral addictions.

One of the first steps in the therapeutic process is to identify the thoughts associated with compulsion, seeking to unravel the reasons behind the compulsive purchase. After identifying these thoughts, mechanisms must be worked on to deal directly with the triggers that encourage compulsive buying.

Easy access to online stores is one of the drivers of the growth of shopping addiction. However, it is possible to adopt some strategies to not be so focused on the available offer © Martin Sanchez/Unsplash

If you think you are addicted to online shopping, think about adopting small strategies to start letting go of these “shackles”. Unsubscribe from store newsletters to avoid receiving multiple promotional emails, block some websites and even if necessary, start blocking some credit cards. As a last resort, you can create a system where payment is only accepted if confirmed by someone else, who can help you control spending.

The impulses will continue to emerge, especially in online terms, where access to purchases is facilitated, but it is important that these are recognized. If you realize that you are facing an impulse, you can use the tools learned in therapy to react against it. Our intervention model, the Change & Grow model, aims to provide you with the necessary tools and strategies to be able to deal with these types of impulses.

© Getty Images/Unsplash+

During therapy, it is also important to focus on issues such as self-esteem and emotional management, in order to change habits and behaviors. In our team we believe that these are very important factors for recovery and that’s why we work on them during therapy sessions.

Remember, the urges you have now may continue, but the key is finding the right tools and dealing with them. Don’t ignore this problem, which is real, and ask for help. Count on us to help you find balance in your life.


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