Psychotherapist Recommends Online Shopping Addiction Be Considered A Mental Disorder
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It's totally normal for a person to enjoy a cheeky scroll through the internet for something to buy.
Whether it's something for a party this weekend, a fancy gift for your partner this Christmas or even just a snuggly piece to wear at home - it's natural to shop around.
However, there is a point where online shopping gets dark.
Some people turn into shopping addicts and can't help but buy everything they like on the net. While many people would chalk this behaviour up to a lack of self control, there is a campaign to get this treated as a mental disorder.
'Buying-shopping disorder' (BSD) has been around for decades, but one psychotherapist wants to update the condition now that internet shopping has taken hold.
Dr Astrid Müller, a psychotherapist at Hannover Medical School in Germany, believes online shopping addiction is a completely different beast.
"It really is time to recognise BSD as separate mental health condition and to accumulate further knowledge about BSD on the Internet," Dr Müller said.
"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."
Dr Müller argues that unlike normal retail stores, online shops operate at any hour of the day, meaning a person's ability to buy things is unbelievably higher.
Someone suffering from BSD will have 'extreme preoccupations with and craving for buying/shopping and by irresistible and identity-seeking urges to possess consumer goods'.
The psychotherapist and her team analysed the behaviour of 122 patients who all suffered from online shopping addiction. They found that this group had a higher rate of depression and anxiety, according to the Daily Mail.
The study has been published in the journal Comprehensive Psychiatry.
Dr Müller wrote: "With e-commerce becoming an important shopping activity, certain Internet-specific aspects such as availability, anonymity, accessibility, and affordability can stimulate the migration of traditional buying-shopping disorder to the electronic marketplace.
"One in three patients suffered from online buying-shopping disorder, which was associated with a higher severity of buying-shopping disorder in general.
"The preliminary findings suggest that this phenotype related to the problematic use of the Internet is prevalent among treatment-seeking patients with buying-shopping disorder, which warrants further research."
At the moment, BSD is placed in a category called 'other specified impulse control disorder', instead of mental disorder.
It affects five per cent of the population and it's this statistic that Dr Müller argues warrants its inclusion in the other category.