Self-esteem can rise up to 17% at the time of purchase
People addicted to shopping have alterations in mood, problems of self-esteem and high impulsivity.
Experts from Quirónsalud de Torrevieja and Valencia estimate that there is a 3% of the Spanish society with an average age of 40 years that suffers from a problem of impulse control which is called "shopping addiction" or "compulsion to buy". This disorder affects two thirds more women than men. According Miguel Sánchez, specialist in Psychology in the Hospital Quirónsalud Torrevieja, "the fact of consuming compulsively is just the tip of the iceberg of an emotional problem that is rooted in the depths of the psyche of those who suffer from it".
The self-esteem of a person can increase up to 17% at the time of acquiring certain consumer goods. Compulsive and unplanned purchases, of items that are not needed, for an amount that exceeds their economic possibilities, constitute, in broad strokes, the characteristics that define a shopping addict, a disorder that, in many cases, is not perceived as such.
What happens in our brain when we buy
When making a purchase activates what we know as a reward circuit, in which we feel good when we reach a goal. In this case, the goal is to buy something we like or think we need. "Dopamine, also called the pleasure hormone", explains Dr. Marina Sangonzalo, psychologist of Hospital Quirónsalud Valencia, "it's the hormone that activates all that reward circuit and makes us have that need. This in turn activates serotonin, which is the hormone responsible for making us feel happy. It's like saying to yourself "I can feel happy shopping."
The difference between a person who is addicted to purchases from a person who is not basically resides in the quick activation of that reward circuit, since they may be depressed or lack self-esteem and tend to be tempted more easily. "This psychological disorder is called onychomania and is often common in people with mood alterations and high impulsivity," says Dr. Sangonzalo.
During the period of sales such as Black Friday and Christmas shopping, the consequences of shopping addiction are more clearly emphasized and exposed, when the anxiety of the patient increases, who tries to palliate it with impulses. "Want and need are two terms that people with compulsive buying behaviors tend to confuse," adds Dr. Sánchez.
How to prevent addiction
First, you should ask for help to the immediate environment and go to the right professionals, because "it is essential that the person becomes aware of the serious problem that can hardly leave by itself," advise the specialists. Psychotherapy and the assessment by the psychiatrist to treat or rule out other associated mental disorders will be essential if you want to guarantee a successful prognosis without relapses. This will be the only way to close a chapter that the individual who suffers from addiction lives with shame and anguish.