Online shopping addiction needs to be taken seriously as a mental health condition, says expert

A small study has shown there is a higher-than-usual rate of depression and anxiety among those addicted to buying online.

Shopping addiction might sound like a punchline, something you say to your housemate as you rip open an enormous ASOS delivery, or that your partner says about you to his mates. But it is now being recognised as a real disorder.

When we talk about addiction it’s usually in terms of drugs, alcohol or gambling – things which come with ample warnings about their dangers. But there are other, seemingly more benign types of addictions which can come with enormous repercussions.

The term BSD ‘buying-shopping disorder’ – is an old one. An addiction to the rush that comes from buying something new has been around almost as long as shopping has. But with the invention of online shopping, BSD has developed into a more common and more significant addiction.

“It really is time to recognise BSD as separate mental health condition and to accumulate further knowledge about BSD on the Internet,” Dr Astrid Müller, a psychotherapist at Hannover Medical School in Germany, told the Mail Online, as part of their investigation into the condition.

In a small study published in the Comprehensive Psychiatry journal, Müller researched the condition, examining 122 patients who had sought treatment for their online shopping addictions. What emerged was a higher-than-usual rate of depression and anxiety among those who were addicted to buying online.

Unlike traditional shopping which has set hours attached to it, online shopping can take place at any time of day. Can’t sleep? Browse ASOS. Stressed at work? Skive off on the Net-A-Porter website. There are no limits on how or where you can pick up a new dress or pair of shoes, and that means that these addictions are only getting worse.

Similarly, there are increasing numbers of short term loan providers who partner with fashion outlets to allow you to purchase clothes that you can’t afford in the moment. Unfortunately, these companies, combined with the easy availability of credit cards, means that compulsive shopping can lead to significant debt.

Any behaviour which is compulsive and taking a negative toll on your quality of life can be treated as an addiction, but the increased recognition of BSD as a compulsion will hopefully help those who are genuinely addicted to shopping to seek help.

This story has been republished with permission from our sister site, Grazia.

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