Shopping Addiction And Its Treatment Options

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Shopping Addiction And Its Treatment Options
Shopping Addiction And Its Treatment Options

Video: Shopping Addiction And Its Treatment Options

Video: Shopping Addiction And Its Treatment Options
Video: The Psychology of Shopping Addiction | How Is Compulsive Buying Disorder Treated? 2023, December

Shopping addiction

If someone is addicted to shopping, he / she cannot stop buying. Buying is experienced as a kind of compulsion and becomes a behavior that those affected can no longer control. The effects of this addiction are extremely momentous: not only for those affected, but also for those in their immediate vicinity. Above all, there are financial difficulties that can lead to further problems (professional or family). In addition, shopping addiction leads to a great deal of suffering. Sometimes those affected slip into criminal areas (e.g. fraud or theft).

Shopping addiction is one of the non-substance-related addictions. It occurs in consumer societies. The diagnosis of “shopping addiction” has still not found its way into the disease manuals as an independent recognized disease. Shopping addiction is also known as what is known as “clean” addiction. It is often barely noticeable from the outside. In addition, consumption is usually rated positively in society. Purchasing power boosts the economy. You exchange ideas about new achievements and compare yourself with one another.


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  • Austria: A quarter at risk of shopping addiction
  • How is the diagnosis of shopping addiction made?
  • How is shopping addiction treated?
  • Whom can I ask?
  • How are the costs covered?

Austria: A quarter at risk of shopping addiction

According to a study by the Vienna Chamber of Labor, which was published in 2017, a quarter of Austrians are at risk of shopping addiction, while eleven percent are addicted. One in three women is at risk of shopping addiction, and only one in five men. You should be especially careful with internet purchases and installment payments as well as generally cashless payments. Buying addiction is twice as high among people who frequently make use of installment payments than those who never pay in installments.

How is the diagnosis of shopping addiction made?

In the case of shopping addiction, the focus is not on the items purchased, but on the act of buying. In many cases, those affected also suffer from depression, other addictions (e.g. gambling addiction, internet addiction or alcohol addiction), from a personality disorder or from a compulsive gathering (compulsive hoarding). With internet addiction in particular, there is often a connection with shopping addiction due to the many buying opportunities on the internet.

In the ICD-10, shopping addiction is classified under "(unspecified) impulse control disorder". In order to determine shopping addiction as such, a detailed anamnesis is required (e.g. with a psychiatrist). In addition, specific questionnaires can be used (eg “Screening procedures to determine compensatory or addictive buying behavior / SKSK) - for example as part of a clinical-psychological diagnosis. The SKSK describes addictive and compensatory buying behavior and measures the extent of the tendency or risk of shopping addiction.

Diagnostic criteria

The following criteria must be met in order to be able to speak of shopping addiction:

  • Your own buying behavior creates stress and takes a lot of time. Social and professional relationships also suffer. There are financial problems or the items purchased pile up and take up living space to a large extent.
  • Excessive buying does not occur in the context of mania or hypomania.
  • In addition, at least one of the following points must apply to consumption mismatch:

    • Frequent and intense preoccupation with buying or buying impulses that inevitably impose themselves and actually seem pointless.
    • Frequent buying (of things that are not needed) beyond the available financial means and for a longer period of time than actually planned.

The self-regulatory ability of those affected is impaired, and self-control with regard to buying is no longer possible. If you try not to buy, you will experience withdrawal symptoms, such as inner restlessness, concentration problems or irritability. The sense of reality can also differ. Most of those affected buy to cope with problems or to alleviate feelings of anxiety or depression. Shortly after the purchase, shopaholics feel exuberantly good, but the mood quickly falls. Depression, disappointment or a guilty conscience are typical feelings that return after excessive buying.

Differentiation from compensatory buying behavior

So-called compensatory buying behavior must be distinguished from shopping addiction. This is a risk factor for developing shopping addiction. It is characterized by:

  • Postponing (but ultimately solving) problems
  • occasional buying for relaxation and reward
  • at times partial loss of control when shopping
  • Objects have a high symbolic value
  • Shopping is a popular hobby

How is shopping addiction treated?

Complete abstinence cannot be achieved with this form of addiction, nor can it be lived. This also results from the fact that everyone has to go shopping (groceries, etc.). The therapy goal is usually a new way of life without stressful buying behavior. However, learning how to deal with purchasing behavior in a self-controlled manner again is a challenging task. This can be supported by therapeutic measures (e.g. behavioral approaches). The treatment is carried out on an outpatient basis or in a private practice and mainly includes psychotherapy or clinical-psychological treatment. In addition, other treatment measures are used, such as exercise, music therapy, art therapeutic approaches and support through social work, etc. Visiting self-help groups can also be helpful. If concomitant illnesses such as depression occur, these are treated accordingly.

Whom can I ask?

If you suspect you have or are at risk of shopping addiction, you can contact the following:

  • Psychiatrist
  • Psychotherapist
  • clinical psychologist
  • Outpatient department of the Anton Proksch Institute
  • Outpatient department of the Sigmund Freud Private University of Vienna

Under Health Search you will find helpful information on the search for a doctor or therapist.

There are also counseling services for relatives. Because the situation can sometimes be very stressful for them too. For more information, see relatives of the mentally ill and codependent.

How are the costs covered?

For information, see Dependency: Benefits and Costs.