Are You a Shopaholic?
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DeniseWhen it came at once the last time and I hit rock bottom its like I lost my job.
AllisonIt's almost like heroin or some kind of drug.
NarratorDenise and Allison, not their real names, are compulsive shoppers. It's a condition that by some estimates affects over 23 million Americans.
John Lochridge, MDThere's a kind of excessive drive to fix something that's wrong inside. And it is temporarily fixed when they go shopping.
NarratorSigns of compulsive shopping include: You feel lost without credit cards and think about money all the time; Many items in your closet still have tags on them and have never been used; You have duplicates of many household and kitchen items, and you hide purchases or bills from your partner. Until they got help, both Denise and Allison nearly ruined their lives with unrestrained spending.
AllisonI've known women who ate up their entire college fund of their children shopping.
NarratorThough it's often characterized as a woman's disease, too little, compulsive shoppers can be of either sex, any race and from any socio-economic class:
John Lochridge, MDI think there are many men who are aware of their shopping addiction. They have definite version of it through cars, electronics, golf clubs. You know, you name it. They can become quite obsess and they can definitely become shopaholics.
NarratorThe uncontrolled buying and the temporary euphoria that go along with it often comes as a result of deeper emotional problems.
AllisonI felt so badly about myself and had such low self-esteem, in the first place, the last thing I wanted to do was look at my financial situation. And so the worse my financial situation got the less I looked at that and the more I shopped trying to fill a void that was unfillable.
NarratorMany compulsive shoppers find help using the 12 steps of debtors anonymous.
John Lochridge, MDYou have to have a support system set up. You have to have commitments — daily commitments — to not shop today, one day at a time.
NarratorFor WebMD, I'm Damon Meharg.
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