â??Shopaholicâ?? diagnosed as a medical condition

By David Seeger, Great Lakes Credit Union CEO and Money Monday expert on WNWO Today

There's such a clinical disorder that affects 5 percent of the American public... It's called the "shopaholic."

This population can be clinically described as a compulsive shopper and has fueled the fact that we have become a materialistic society where we equate â??thingsâ?? with power and success. Effectively, "net worth doesnâ??t equal self worth.â?? Yet, we are cued to think otherwise.

â??And as spending money has become easier thought the use of the internet and credit cards, more people seem to experience problems with self control as it applies to shopping impulses,â?? said Terrence Shulman, the founder of the Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft, Spending and Hoarding. Collectively, these disorders are technically clinical â??impulsivity disorders."

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Being a shopaholic is just one variation of this clinical disease. About as many Americans are classified as â??compulsive over spendersâ?? where they may intellectually know their limits, but have the compulsion to spend more than what is prudent or necessary.

Signs of a shopaholic may include the inability to stop one from making purchases; conflicts with loved ones over expenditures and lying about shopping. While they love the idea of shopping and get the immediate gratification from the purchase, they get uninterested in the purchase once they get home. It becomes not about the acquisition of the product itself, but the experience of acquiring it that gives them the temporary satisfactionâ?|.until they need their next â??fix.â??

In some cases, compulsive shopping overlaps with compulsive hoarding, according to Gail Steketee, a professor at Boston University School of Social Work and co-author of â??Buried in Treasures: Help for the Compulsive Acquiring, Savings and Hoarding.â?? She indicates that treatment through therapy often helps, and that it takes about six months to a year to make any significant changes in behavior.

What causes the disorder?

1. Emotional deprivation in childhood2. Inability to tolerate negative feelings3. Need to fill an inner void4. Excitement seeking5. Approval seeking6. Perfectionism7. Genuinely impulsive and compulsive8. Need to gain control

Types of Behaviors:1. Compulsive shoppers â?? shop to distract their feelings2. Trophy shoppers â?? find the perfect item3. Image shoppers â?? need for highly visible acquisitions for social status4. Bargain shoppers â?? buy things they donâ??t need but do so just because it is a good deal and cannot deny the purchase based upon this false economic equation5. Codependent shoppers â?? to gain love and approval6. Bulimic shoppers â?? buy and return syndrome7. Collector shoppers â?? have to have complete or many sets of objects or different colors of same item

Suggestions for change:1. Avoid people or places which tempt you to shop/spend2. Cut up plastic, close charge accounts3. Make a list before going to the store and stick to it4. Wait a while before you give into which may be an impulse purchase5. Askâ?|â??Do I need this or do I just want thisâ?? before each purchase6. Develop strategies to manage your compulsive and impulsive emotions7. Seek out professional help which may include medications, support groups, etc8. Become aware of your triggers for shopping9. Cancel magazine subscriptions which have a lot of advertising and do not watch the shopping channel