You pass by a shop and spot a lovely shirt. You wait until you get your paycheck and then go straight to get it. Four hours, and a few hundred dollars later, you come back home realizing that you bought seven shirts, four pants, and two pairs of shoes, while there’s still no food in the fridge… and then it hits you: it’s the same scenario every single month.
Compulsive shopping has been the ever-growing plague of our society for the past decade. It’s spreading throughout our community faster than snake venom spreading through a bitten body. And while most people with a compulsive shopping issue ignore its symptoms and discard its consequences, they pass it on to people around them as if it’s some contagious disease; and that’s exactly how doctors describe it.
It’s commonly known that compulsive shopping targets ladies, but you would be shocked by how many men are infected as well. The latest statistics show that roughly 37% of the entire Lebanese shopping community has C.S. Syndrome; 30% of which are men (L.U. stats)… shocking numbers to a community with a small purchasing power. Even worse, compulsive shopping has been known to drive people into debt and occasionally land them in jail, and much worse, it’s been known to destroy families because of the improper way money is being spent.
But how does compulsive shopping occur?
As it is with most addictive syndromes, compulsive shopping can occur if a person is subject to another addictive syndrome or problem, such as drinking or gambling. It’s contagious as well, so a person can get it from another compulsive shopper he or she is in frequent contact with. It can even occur when the financial situation of someone is bad; it has a counter effect and drives him or her to compulsive shopping instead of saving.
As TV personality Dr. Phil explains, addictive syndromes can be triggered by anything ranging from inside someone’s house due to a family problem to inside the office due to a stressful work overload. In all cases, it’s a progressive disease that can sometimes “lead a person to his utter destruction, and the destruction of his family and the ones close to him.”
And how do you know you have C.S.?
It’s pretty simple. There are a few standard signs, as explained by Professor Ruth Engs, MD in Indiana University, indicating that you may have C.S.:
- If you frequently break the limit of your budget by spending over what you have planned for.
- If you aim to buy one item and end up buying five or more unnecessary items.
- If you shop as a result of feeling angry and depressed.
- If you feel a rush or a feeling of euphoria while shopping.
- If you feel guilty or ashamed after your shopping spree.
- If you hide what you’ve purchased from the people living with you or the people around you fearing that they might shower you with questions and remarks.
- Since C.S. is a chronic syndrome, these signs have to be frequent.
According to Dr. Engs, if you have four or more of the above points, then you tend to be a compulsive shopper.
How do you prevent C.S. and how do you counter it?
Here are some easy tips that can help you with compulsive shopping and some helpful ways to deal with it:
- Make shopping lists of what you need and try to purchase only what’s on the list.
- “Window shop” only after stores are closed and try to avoid browsing inside an open store or shop.
- Carry only necessary amounts of cash on you and avoid using credit cards at any time.
- Avoid discount warehouses and bazaars; these are the places a compulsive shopper spends most of his or her money.
- Avoid phoning in catalogue orders and don’t watch TV shopping channels.
- Don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Compulsive shopping is a serious matter that should be handled properly by specialists and psychologists.