A quick trip to Kmart means nothing to most people, but experts are warning that regular shopping trips which result in unnecessary or out-of-control spending could be down to more than just a lack of self-control.
While many of us flippantly admit to being shopaholics, a number of experts are actually calling for shopping addiction, otherwise known as “oniomania” or “compulsive buying disorder” (CBD), to be recognised as a mental illness.
The move follows a recent study conducted by Hannover Medical School, which revealed up to 7 per cent of adults display some form of compulsive buying issues, with numbers in America and Europe rising in the past two decades.
Professor Astrid Mueller, a clinical psychologist with a special interest in addiction believes that there needs to be more talk of this addiction.
It’s time to recognise compulsive shopping disorder as a separate mental health condition, which will help us develop better treatments and diagnosis methods,” she told the Daily Mail.
“Arguably one type of compulsive buying (ie gambling disorder) is already recognised and accepted as a mental disorder by most mainstream medical and psychiatric authorities, so there is a good chance that compulsive buying more generally may be recognised in the future.”
Those who suffer from the condition – which once came under the umbrella term of impulse-control disorder, alongside kleptomania, the urge to steal – often describe an increasing urge to spend or anxiety that can only be eased by making a purchase.
They may also use shopping as a way to deal with negative emotions and go to extreme lengths to hide their purchases from loved ones.
The disorder can develop regardless of income and the items purchased by compulsive shoppers aren’t always expensive.
However, many compulsive shoppers buy in quantity, with many admitting to buying a product “because it was a bargain”.