From the psychologist of the Rehabilitation Unit “Thalpos Attica” Maria Makridaki.
The spread of the internet, credit and prepaid cards and the sophisticated marketing have turned product market to a highly accessible source for a large number of the population. Many people, despite the great financial crisis that has plagued us for so many years, continue consuming products which they probably do not need, hoping that the purchase of these goods will renew them and will bring them an ephemeral joy in their lives. In this kind of cases, where the consumption of products becomes their life’s purpose, then we deal with an addiction.
Think about whether you are thinking of buying or ordering things all the time and whether this works as a way to change your mood. If the product you were about to buy is a product you do not need or you did not plan to buy. If the amount of stuff you order is large and as a result your other obligations are negatively affected. Do you have the feeling that you need to buy more and more things to get the same satisfaction as before? Do you feel bad when something prevents you from shopping? Are there shopping bags that you have not opened yet at home? Have your family or friends made negative comments about your behavior? Does your life focus only on the product market?
Shopping in these cases becomes the easy solution, they act as a mechanism to escape from negative feelings and as a result the individual keeps consuming products which he actually don’t need in order to feel temporarily happy. But this is unfortunately a vicious circle because the addiction leads right back to these negative emotions. When we try to escape from our problems we find them again in front of us. Shopping addiction is associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Often the addicted super-consumer has a low self-esteem. Material goods are likely to be used to fill an emotional gap, perhaps to cover a possible deprivation of goods in his childhood. They probably cover their need for social visibility and recognition or work as an exhaustion of stress from a difficult family or work environment.
Shopping addicts usually hide their purchases, overcharging their cards, and sometimes returning products to avoid intense family tensions. These people, due to this super-consuming fury, end up in isolation, suffer emotionally and financially need to be helped.
With the help of an expert, their self-esteem can be stimulated and they can realize that they cannot "buy" the change they seek for and also that the emotional vacuum is not supplemented by material goods. In reality, however, what they need to do is to give a courageous commitment from their side in order to invest in themselves and in their relationships, rather than in material goods, and thus live authentic by addressing their problems rather than hiding them behind new purchases.