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Possessed to Shop

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Dr. Kelly Lundberg is a licensed psychologist and a U of U psychiatry professor. She is a statewide expert in addictions.


As the Christmas shopping melee begins, how do you know if you’re a shopping addict?
nIt’s not unusual for people to engage in a little retail therapy to soothe emotions, but if this feels uncontrollable and habitual, you may be in trouble. Particularly if you find yourself getting a rush from the actual purchase (rather than excitement about the actual item you’ve bought), chronically overspending, feeling anxious when you don’t have a credit card, lying about how much you spend, ignoring other responsibilities in order to shop, or having repeated arguments about your spending habits.


Do “things” make people happier or more secure?
nSome things do. But there is typically a limit where more doesn’t necessarily equate with better. We’re always searching for happiness. And it seems easier to buy it at Kmart than to struggle to find it internally. But if you take the time and energy to find it internally, it lasts a very long time and you don’t have to worry about returns.


Are societal forces turning us into shopping addicts?
nNo. I worry more about societal forces closing the Tower Theatre.


What gift would be apropos to give a shopping addict?
nHandmade gift certificates for dinner or a movie, or an afternoon of hiking.


So many people to buy for: How best to cope?
nBudget ahead and know exactly how much you want to spend and don’t go over it. Use cash instead of credit cards or checks. If you’re finished with your holiday shopping, avoid the stores so you don’t get sucked in by last-minute items. Try to manage your overall stress level in healthy ways. Get support when you need it.

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