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'Tis the season for shopping addiction


Thanksgiving marks the beginning of a world-wide obsession: holiday shopping.

And since nabbing new things can now be done with the click of a button online, experts estimate that around 6 percent of the population has a problem.

A recent Canadian survey shows that about 47 percent of adults spend more than they can afford during this time of year and that 36 percent go into debt while getting in the holiday spirit.

A growing problem

Ashley Tulloch, registered provisional psychologist says that shopping addiction, however, is more than just splurging a bit for Christmas. It's a real phenomenon that allows a person to get a "high" from spending.

"Someone who thrives off that effect of dopamine in their brain" will be more prone to a problem, Tulloch notes. "And often what we'll see is individuals who are in recovery for a previous addiction--a drug or alcohol addiction--often engage in shopping and spending to give them that sense of excitement and pleasure that they've been missing since they've been sober."

Signs of addiction

Signs of shopping addiction include shopping to get away from problems, spending more than you have, needing to justify unnecessary purchases, hoarding, hiding price tags or receipts from loved ones and feeling high or euphoric after a splurge but then guilty or shameful afterwards.

"Over time and repeated exposure to this rewarding experience, our brain is programmed to continually crave it and to motivate us to seek out that pleasurable experience, more, and more, and more...just like a drug addict or alcoholic would do," said Tulloch.

Tips for avoiding too much spending

Avoiding too big of a splurge around the holidays can be as easy as avoiding the use of credit cards and only spending the money you have, explains Tulloch.

She also recommends creating a budget that you can stick to, making a list of the things you need and not varying from it, and shopping during a time you feel relaxed, not rushed.

Source: Gobal Edmonton