The Grapevine

Should Online Shopping Addiction Be Considered A Mental Health Condition?

In today’s fast-paced modern world, where everything can be done with just a simple click, online shopping has easily become all the rage, with multiple e-commerce websites doing all they can to meet the demand and keep the tides flowing via multiple sales every few months. And if one were to look at it, it’s easy to see why. For one thing, it saves everyone the hassle of going to a physical store since everything can be bought with your phone, with the added benefit of that product getting delivered to your doorstep. So for shopaholics, what’s not to love?

Too much of one thing, however, can still have negative effects. And according to psychotherapists, too much online shopping should be recognized as an actual mental health disorder.

When Shopping Becomes a Problem

It’s not a new problem in the first place. Throughout time, the idea of shopping to make ourselves feel good has always been recognized as a problem, and is usually referred to as ‘buying-shopping disorder,’ or BPD. However, experts state that when placed in the context of the internet age and today’s technological climate, it takes on a whole new, worse meaning, and is now so rampant that it affects one in 20 people.

People who are obsessed with online shopping can easily start showing negative behavior, such as spending too much money on things they don’t need, hoard up things they order, buy things just for the sake of buying, end up in debt and in worst cases, even lose self-control.

"It really is time to recognize BSD as separate mental health condition and to accumulate further knowledge about BSD on the Internet," Dr. Astrid Müller, a psychotherapist at Hannover Medical School in Germany, said.

In one of their studies, she and her colleagues looked at data from 122 patients seeking help for their online shopping addiction and found that they have a higher risk of developing both anxiety and depression. And while BDP is not classified as its own disorder, it affects five percent of the population, and so should be given more serious attention.

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