Think You Might Be a Shopping Addict? Ask Yourself These Questions

If it’s payday and you’re like a lot of people who love to shop, you may already be plotting out your next purchase, researching who’s got the best sales and deciding where you’ll head for your weekend shopping spree.

If that sounds like a familiar scenario for most paydays and Fridays, have you ever wondered if you have a problem with spending? (Or maybe someone you love has hinted that you do?) A new screening test, developed by scientists at Bergen University, in Norway, aims to separate out those who need occasional retail therapy from people who may have a compulsive, and damaging, problem with their spending. Cecilie Schou Andreassen, PhD, a researcher and clinical psychologist from Bergen University in Norway —  who is now a visiting professor at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut — helped create the just-released Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale, which is the first to look at compulsive shopping through the lens of addiction. That’s a new angle, since previous screening tests measuring compulsive buying disorder (another name for shopping addiction) see the problem as largely related to other mental health issues. “To date, assessment screens for shopping disorder have primarily been rooted within impulse-control or obsessive-compulsive disorder paradigms,” the authors write in the study. “Although several scales for assessing problematic shopping have been developed, mainly in the late 1980s and early 90s,” say Dr. Andreassen in an interview with, “they do not approach problematic shopping behavior as an addiction in terms of core addiction criteria that have been emphasized in several behavioral addictions.” 

Test Yourself: Are You a Shopaholic?

Ask yourself these questions, adapted from the Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale, to assess whether you might have a more serious problem:

  1. Do I think about shopping/buying all the time?

  2. Do I ever shop/buy to change my mood?

  3. Does my shopping/buying negatively affect my daily work or school obligations?

  4. Have I decided to shop/buy less but have not been able to?

  5. Do I feel bad if I for some reason cannot buy/shop what I want to?

  6. Do I feel bad if I’m prevented from shopping or buying?

  7. Do I shop/buy so much it has compromised my well-being (such as interrupting sleep or causing me to skip meals or doctor’s appointments)?

If you find yourself agreeing with three or more of these questions, then it might be time to get help so that you can get your love of shopping under control once and for all.

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