Addicted to Online Shopping?

When it comes to online shopping, the scales can tip surprisingly easily from a healthy habit to a dangerous addiction. So, has your love for online shopping gone too far?

From the solitude and anonymity of your computer, indulging in your secret love for online shopping can feel relatively harmless. And it’s convenient too. With your life as busy as it is, it’s just so easy to hop online and buy those things you need – and want. But for many, the online shopping scales can tip surprisingly easily from a healthy habit to a dangerous addiction that can end up affecting their emotional, social and financial wellbeing. Think you may be an online shopping addict? Here’s what you should know.

What are the signs to watch out for?

A very important sign that your interest in online shopping is becoming problematic is if you’re concealing your behaviour from your partner, family or friends, or if you’re hiding things that you have bought online, explains says Coen Jacobs, a Johannesburg-based clinical psychologist. “You might also notice that your online shopping is starting to have a negative affect on your relationships or work,” he adds. “Maybe you’re arguing about it with the people around you more often, or you’re struggling to finish your work because you’re spending most of your time online.”

People who are addicted to online shopping also often shop when they feel down, upset or lonely, and believe that the act of shopping will make them feel better. The opposite is usually true, however, and especially when they buy things they don’t need or can’t afford, they can be left with feelings of guilt or remorse instead.

Why is this addiction dangerous?

Strained emotional and social relationships, anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, serious debt – these are all possible outcomes of being addicted to online shopping. Like other addictions, compulsive shopping can also be rooted in underlying mental and emotional causes, including low self-esteem and the need for approval. Without looking at and addressing these issues, it might be difficult to find a long-term solution to your addiction.

What should you do about it?

“Admit to yourself that you might have a problem and start taking practical steps to help you try and deal with it,” says Coen. These steps can take many different forms, depending on the severity of your addiction. Unsubscribing from promotional mails and newsletters is an excellent place to start, as is blocking access to shopping sites that are risky for you, such as eBay, Amazon or Takealot. Ask someone else to set the password when you install this filtering software – Optenet PC is one option – so that you won’t be able to deactivate it.

If you feel that your addition is out of control and your attempts to stop are failing, seek out the help of a therapist or support group who understands what you are going through. These therapeutic spaces will also help you explore the underlying causes of your addiction, making it much more likely that you will recover.

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