Online Shopping Addiction Is A Mental Health Condition, Psychotherapists Claim

Shopping has become much easier and more accessible with the use of the Internet. Nowadays, many of us buy most of their things online, as it is easy, time-saving, and convenient.

You go on an online shopping site, you choose the item, enter the right size, amount, or color, you add your address details, and after the next click, you can start waiting for it to be delivered at your home.

Shopping is always the best therapy, especially for girls. Let’s face it, we all feel happier when we have purchased the item we have been longing for so long.

We feel more handsome in the new jeans, our bedroom looks much better with the new carpet, we have more energy when we have to go out in the new shoes..and so on. At least, this is how I feel when I have bought something.

Even though shopping might cause temporary excitement only and does not actually solve problems, shopping is often an effective way to cope with a difficult situation.

Yet, there should be a limit for everything, and any excessive or repeated behavior points out a deeper cause.

According to psychotherapists, online shopping addiction is a mental health condition that has gone unrecognized for far too long.

Researchers have found that those people who are struggling with this addiction had higher than usual rates of depression and anxiety.

According to researchers, addiction has been heightened due to the rise of online stores, apps, and home delivery. The internet never closes, so shopaholics can indulge at all hours of the day from their homes, without having to interact with others.

Additionally, online shops offer more deals than high street stores, so customers can access them at more affordable prices.

Yet, all of this contributes to the increased number of young people showing signs of buying-shopping disorder (BSD).

Researchers maintain it affects 5% of the population, and it has been recognized for decades.

Yet, it is not currently classified as a disorder of its own by The World Health Organization, unlike gambling and video game addiction, pyromania and kleptomania. It falls under a category named ‘other specified impulse control disorder’ instead. A classification leads health services to devise specific approaches to treatment.

According to Dr. Müller and her team, it is taking on a new meaning in the internet age and deserves more serious attention since it might have serious mental effects.

She wrote:

“With e-commerce becoming an important shopping activity, certain Internet-specific aspects such as availability, anonymity, accessibility, and affordability can stimulate the migration of traditional buying-shopping disorder to the electronic marketplace.”

The paper has been published in the journal Comprehensive Psychiatry, and the team suggests that the online form of BSD can lead to a loop of extreme cravings for buying things and satisfaction when spending money. These cravings can, in turn, cause a breakdown in self-control and ‘extreme distress’.

The disorder can also lead to physical clutter, relationship difficulties, family issues, and debt.

The characteristics of the compulsive shopping disorder include a preoccupation with buying unneeded items, difficulty resisting their purchase, and financial difficulties due to uncontrolled shopping.

Dr. Müller explained their findings:

“One in three patients suffered from online buying-shopping disorder, which was associated with higher severity of buying-shopping disorder in general.

The preliminary findings suggest that this phenotype related to the problematic use of the Internet is prevalent among treatment-seeking patients with buying-shopping disorder, which warrants further research.”

Therefore, she concluded:

“It really is time to recognize BSD as a separate mental health condition and to accumulate further knowledge about BSD on the internet.

We hope that our results showing that the prevalence of addictive online shopping among treatment-seeking patients with BSD will encourage future research addressing the distinct phenomenological characteristics, underlying features, associated comorbidity, and specific treatment concepts.”