Compulsive buying is a mental disorder, say docs
Deccan Chronicle.| Aarti Kashyap
Psychologists say that compulsive buying-shopping disorder (CBSD) is an uncontrollable impulse to buy things, even those that are not needed. (Representational Image: PTI)
Hyderabad: Compulsive buying behaviour or compulsive buying disorder is not simply an urge to be a shopaholic, but, rather, is a mental health condition associated with low self-esteem and low self-confidence, say experts.
Psychologists say that compulsive buying-shopping disorder (CBSD) is an uncontrollable impulse to buy things, even those that are not needed. It is mentioned under the ‘other specified impulse control disorders’ by the World Health Organization in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).
Baijesh Ramesh, a city-based clinical psychologist working with Minerva University in California of USA, said: "An individual with this problem may experience an irresistible, recurring urge to shop excessively, which is often accompanied by a feeling of excitement or euphoria that is triggered by the anticipation of acquiring a new product. The individual continues to engage in this behaviour despite the negative consequences that may arise from excessive spending, such as financial problems, social isolation, relationship issues etc."
Research indicates that women are more prone to compulsive shopping compared to men, possibly due to societal and cultural expectations related to gender roles and consumerism. Nonetheless, it is essential to acknowledge that compulsive shopping can impact individuals of all genders, say experts.
Several factors can trigger compulsive shopping, including psychological, environmental, and biological factors, they say.
Psychologists say accessibility to the internet, social media, credit cards, online shopping, advertisements and promotions contribute to CBSD.
"CBSD can be triggered or exacerbated by negative emotional states such as stress, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Social and environmental factors like peer pressure, family expectations, cultural attitudes toward consumerism, and social media can contribute to compulsive shopping. Financial stress, lack of financial education, and easy access to credit are also potential triggers," Ramesh said.
Compulsive shopping is observed frequently among individuals diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), hoarders and other impulse control disorders.
Dr Mazar Ali, a consultant psychiatrist and assistant professor, Deccan College of Medical Sciences, said CBSD was a co-morbid disorder that cannot be singled out, but rather associated with other mental health issues.
Ali said, "Other issues which can contribute here are mania or hypomania, which are a part of bipolar disorder, depression or anxiety disorders, stress, OCD. Once we have ruled out the disorder, we see why the person indulged in excess buying. Also, it is not the things but the act of buying things that gets the patients high. People with this disorder neglect their routine activities without any solid decision on budget and an end goal."
Ramesh said, "A comprehensive approach to treatment is required and it often involves a combination of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes to help individuals manage their symptoms and regain control over their spending behaviour. It is important for individuals struggling with compulsive shopping to seek help from a trained mental health professional."