Shopping Addictions and Hoarding: Extreme Spending and Saving

Shopping is embedded in our culture. But sometimes it turns into addiction. It becomes a compulsive disorder which brings a temporary high. This excessive, chronic, and impulsive behavior can destroy a person’s finances and relationships. (It goes way beyond a weak-moment shopping spree.) Help may come to overspenders in the form of Debtors Anonymous meetings, credit or debt counseling, and professional assistance from a therapist.

Then there are those who save. Some people save things, and some people save everything. When it gets to the point that a home is nearly uninhabitable, compulsive hoarding may be the culprit. People who suffer from this psychological condition see the value in every object, leading to the inability to get rid of things (even items of no value, such as old newspapers and food containers).

Hoarding is more extreme than simply accumulating clutter. Hoarders may not be able to move around the home. Floor space may shrink to a single pathway. Hoarding restricts everyday activities like cooking, cleaning, or sleeping and severely reduces the quality of life. Hoarders may not even recognize the extremity of their surroundings. Or, if they do, they may refuse to let family and friends visit their homes for fear of being criticized.

If you or someone you know has symptoms of hoarding or shopping addiction, consider contacting a therapist. Good resources for basic information about hoarding are the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (www.challengingdisorganization.org) and the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation (www.ocfoundation.org).

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