A new study published in the journal Comprehensive Psychiatry suggests that online shopping addiction should be officially recognised as a mental disorder.
Buying-shopping disorder, or BSD, reportedly affects about 5% of the population according to a 2016 meta-analysis, but is not currently categorised as its own mental health condition.
People with BSD suffer from “extreme preoccupations with and craving for buying/shopping and by irresistible and identity-seeking urges to possess consumer goods“, which, gotta say, is hitting slightly too close to home for me. Who among us is immune to that sweet hit of dopamine that comes with dropping something into your online shopping cart and speeding all the way through checkout?
But those who experience BSD often suffer serious negative consequences. Many end up in hoarding situations as their possessions take over their homes, or find their relationships, self-esteem and, obviously, financial situations often suffer.
Unsurprisingly, women are more likely than other demographics to suffer from compulsive buying. In this particular study, the experts also found that online-specific BSD is related to both lower age, and higher severity of anxiety and depression.
Those with online BSD symptoms also seem to suffer from more severe general BSD, suggesting that the ease and anonymity of the online shopping experience is making compulsive shoppers’ addictions worse.
One of the researchers, Dr Astrid Müller, told the Daily Mail:
It really is time to recognise BSD as a separate mental health condition and to accumulate further knowledge about BSD on the internet.
We hope that our results showing that the prevalence of addictive online shopping among treatment-seeking patients with BSD will encourage future research addressing the distinct phenomenological characteristics, underlying features, associated comorbidity, and specific treatment concepts.
With such a huge range of access to online stores, combined with the thrill of receiving parcels in the mail, it makes sense that shopping online could make an existing addiction almost impossible to control. Hopefully with official recognition from mental health authorities, we’ll also see the development of strategies designed to keep me the hell off eBay at 2am on a Tuesday night.