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June 24, 2024/Daily Health Stories

How to Stop Compulsive Shopping

If you often find yourself buying things you don't need, you're not alone. A psychologist explains how to help reduce the habit of compulsive shopping.

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CLEVELAND - If you find yourself constantly adding new items to your online shopping cart or buying things you really don’t need, you’re not alone.

Compulsive shopping can be a common problem.

As Susan Albers, PsyD, psychologist for Cleveland Clinic explains, mental health has a lot to do with it.

“Compulsive shopping goes hand in hand with emotions and mental health.

It's often a way of coping with stress, anxiety, and depression,” said Dr. Albers. “Spending is one way that we can fill the emotional void, escape from negative emotions and give us a temporary boost of feeling pleasure in our life.”

Dr. Albers said when you buy something, the neurotransmitter dopamine is released into your brain, making you feel good.

The enjoyment you get is from the experience, not so much the item.

She said you can help reduce compulsive shopping through simple behavior modification, like pausing before a purchase.

Ask yourself if you really need this item. How will it add value to your life?

You should also focus on how you’re feeling.

Are you buying something to escape negative emotions?

Other tips include deleting shopping apps on your phone and setting a budget.

“The difference between compulsive spending and healthy purchases is intention and consequences.

With healthy shopping, we purchase in a calm and planned manner of the things that we need,” said Dr. Albers. “Compulsive shopping in contrast is done with a sense of urgency. There is an emotional trigger, and it often results in emotional or financial distress.”

She said if you feel guilty after buying something, that is a tell-tale sign that you engaged in compulsive shopping.

She recommends taking a step back and reflecting on the decision.

You may also want to consider speaking to a mental health professional about it.

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. Cleveland Clinic is consistently recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for its expertise and care. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 81,000 employees worldwide are more than 5,743 salaried physicians and researchers, and 20,160 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,690-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 23 hospitals, 276 outpatient facilities, including locations in northeast Ohio; Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2023, there were 13.7 million outpatient encounters, 323,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 301,000 surgeries and procedures throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 132 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/CleClinicNews. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.

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