What is Compulsive Spending?
Maybe you know someone you’d describe as a ‘shopaholic’ – or maybe you’d describe yourself that way. Many of us enjoy a day at the shops or taking advantage of online sales now and then. But a compulsive spender takes this pleasure to a serious degree. They feel a need to buy things almost constantly. Their spending can end up putting them, or those they depend on, in financial difficulty or debt. And in the end, their purchases don’t even make them happy.
The Australian government doesn’t recognize compulsive spending – also known as compulsive shopping, compulsive buying disorder, shopaholism, or oniomania – as a mental disorder. But the Australian Psychological Society recently reported that up to 1 in 12 Australians may suffer from this addiction.
Am I a Shopaholic?
Lots of us have our moments when we want to treat ourselves, or when we just have a momentary urge to splash out money on something. But for a compulsive spender, this feeling is a need, and it is nearly constant.
Symptoms of oniomania include:
- Spending beyond your means.
- Feeling a sense of euphoria each time you purchase something…
- Feeling guilt, stress, and/or disgust after spending.
- Feeling compelled to purchase something whenever there’s an opportunity to buy something (shops, online, TV).
- Secrecy. This could mean hiding your purchases from a spouse or other loved one
- Having a credit card you haven’t told anyone about.
If you experience these symptoms once a week or more, it’s very likely that you’re suffering from compulsive spending.
What are the Negative Effects of Compulsive Spending?
Shopaholics are often portrayed as harmless, if misguided, characters in the media. Their addiction isn’t really that bad and many of us can relate to it, at least a bit. In reality, true shopaholics often have issues like low self-esteem, anger, depression, and loneliness. Their addiction may cause them to constantly struggle to make ends meet, or even go into debt. Compulsive buying disorder can also put immense strain on relationships, since shopaholics often lie about their spending, can cause financial problems for spouses or partners, and may frequent the shops rather than spend time in the company of friends and loved ones.
What Causes Compulsive Spending?
Like many addictive behaviours, oniomania may have genetic causes, or be rooted in childhood development. Shopaholics often had childhoods where they were (or felt) neglected by their parents or caretakers. They turned to desiring and acquiring objects to fill the void and bring them comfort.
As adults, compulsive shoppers tend to experience feelings of anger, depression, low self-esteem, and loneliness that they try to erase by shopping. When they first buy something, they feel an amazing sense of pleasure and release. But that quickly turns into negative feelings: remorse, stress, or even disgust at themselves. And after the whole episode, the cycle starts again: No matter how many things they buy, they’ll never feel better, satisfied, or ‘whole’.
How to Cure Compulsive Spending?
There are many treatment options for people suffering from compulsive spending. At Transformational Therapy in Albury, we use a variety of innovative techniques, combined with unique therapeutic methods that will help you to understand not just why you compulsively shop, but how to change what’s at the bottom of it.
Over the course of 6 to 10 sessions, we’ll explore your condition and what you’re telling yourself to make it continue – so that you can make the necessary changes, to come out a happier, healthier person with control over your life.
Please Note: If you are experiencing harrassment from creditors or are unable to pay your bills you may need support and guidance from a Financial Counsellor. Click here to locate a Financial Counsellling Service near you. Alternatively, you can call the National Debt Line on 1800 007 007
Stop your compulsive spending and take your life back. Contact Transformational Therapy on 0409 777 116 to get started.