Can You Get Addicted To Online Shopping?

Online shopping refers to buying goods and services via the internet. Online shopping has grown rapidly in popularity; from 2019 to 2020 e-commerce sales increased 43%. Many people switched to online shopping during the pandemic, and never stopped. In 2022, online shopping sales were estimated at $1,034.1 billion, increasing 7.7% from 2021.

Online shopping provides convenience and variety while allowing people to shop from home or wherever they are at any given moment. Many stores even have their own mobile apps to help consumers access their products. With 85% of Americans owning a smartphone, it has become even more favorable and convenient for people to shop online.

However, excessively shopping online can cause significant financial distress and impact personal relationships. As a result of the growing convenience and accessibility of online shopping, people can quickly develop a shopping addiction in today’s society. 

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The Negative Impacts Of Online Shopping Addiction

Online shopping addiction refers to an excessive or uncontrollable urge to shop via the internet. It can further be explained as an inability to control the impulse to make online purchases, despite its negative consequences on an individual’s financial, emotional, and physical well-being. 

The potential negative impacts of online shopping addiction can be extensive and severe. Financially, it can lead to excessive spending on unnecessary items, trouble saving money, difficulty sticking to a budget, increased credit card debt, and financial stress.

Emotionally, an online shopping addiction can lead to guilt, shame, inadequacy, impulse control issues, and low self-esteem and self-worth. Physical implications include sitting in front of a computer or mobile phone for long durations, lack of physical activity and exercise, poor posture and back pain, insomnia, and sleep disturbances.

Online shopping addiction may also cause a person to isolate, thus creating a lack of physical and social interactions. It can also negatively impact an individual’s relationships, career, and overall quality of life. It is worth noting that an online shopping addiction can be a symptom of underlying mental health conditions and should be treated by a mental health professional.

Signs Of Online Shopping Addiction

People may feel that their shopping habits are not hurting or affecting anyone, but that’s not always the case. For example, if an individual has a joint account with a partner, their online spending may cause financial stress, which could lead to conflict within the relationship. They may resort to lying and hiding purchases to avoid conflict with their partner. 

Because shopping is a normal and often necessary part of life, it may be challenging for someone to recognize an addiction to online shopping. Various signs may indicate that an individual has an addiction to online shopping. Some of these signs include:

  • Spending excessive amounts of time and money on online shopping.
  • Having difficulty controlling the urge to shop online, even when it causes financial, emotional, or physical troubles.
  • Lying to friends and family about the magnitude of online shopping activities or hiding purchased items.
  • Neglecting responsibilities or important obligations to continue online shopping.
  • Feelings of guilt, shame, or anxiety surrounding online shopping patterns.
  • Coping with negative emotions or stress by shopping online.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not shopping, such as irritability or apprehension.
  • Having relationship issues, difficulties at work, and financial problems related to online shopping.

It is important to remember that not everyone who shops online has an addiction, and displaying some signs does not automatically mean someone has an addiction. However, if someone experiences several of these signs and online shopping negatively affects their daily life, it is time to seek professional help.

Treatment Options

Treatment for online shopping addiction typically involves a combination of therapy and self-help strategies. The treatment plan will depend on the individual’s specific needs and conditions, but it could include the following:

Therapy

A therapist or counselor can help individuals explore and identify what caused the emotional or psychological struggles contributing to their shopping addiction. A mental health professional can use cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), a common form of psychotherapy, to help individuals change their thoughts and behaviors related to their addiction. Additionally, therapy can help individuals develop coping skills and strategies for managing triggers. When individuals can identify the triggers that led to their addictive behavior, they can better develop a plan to avoid or manage those triggers.

Online Therapy

If it is not feasible for an individual to attend in-person therapy for their shopping addiction, online therapy is an option. Online therapy provides the same level of care as in-person therapy, but it may be more attainable for those with conflicting schedules or extenuating circumstances. Additionally, online therapy is confidential, accessible, and convenient, and there are many online therapy providers to choose from.

Self-Help Strategies

Individuals may also benefit from self-help strategies such as setting limits on the amount of time or money spent online shopping, creating a budget, finding alternative activities to replace the urge to shop, or attending a class on money management. Individuals can also delete all shopping apps and remove their debit or credit card information from their phones. That way, if an individual wants to make a purchase online, their phone won’t automatically fill in their card information.

Support Groups

Joining a support group for individuals with an online shopping addiction can provide a sense of community and accountability. It can also offer an opportunity to learn from others who have successfully overcome their addiction. 12-step programs like Shopaholics Anonymous and Debtors Anonymous may benefit individuals with online shopping addictions.

Medications

Sometimes, a mental health professional may prescribe medication to help an individual manage symptoms of underlying mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression. These mental health conditions may contribute to online shopping addictions, so it is critical to address all aspects of an individual for treatment to be successful and long-lasting.

There Is Help Available For Online Shopping Addiction

Treatment for online shopping addiction is gradual and requires patience and persistence, as there may also be co-occurring conditions to treat. Recovery is possible, and with the proper support, individuals can learn to manage their online shopping addiction and regain control over their lives. Learn more about your online therapy options for treatment today.

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