Shopping Is Making Us Sad

According to a recent piece from Well + Good, many Americans’ shopping habits — egged on by the glut of fast fashion offerings — have veered into legitimate addiction territory, and the behavior can have serious financial and psychological consequences.

“Up to now, conversations about the consequences of fast fashion have mainly focused on the heavy toll it takes on the environment and on garment workers,” the story said. “But on an individual level, fast fashion can have effects on your brain, your mental health, and your overall well-being.”

According to cited research, one in 20 Americans are afflicted with obsessive shopping habits, and young women in particular are the most susceptible to the behavior.

While young people shopping too much isn’t a new phenomenon, in the past, the story said, “most people outgrew their overspending habits as their maturing personal style priced them out of such options.” But “thanks in big part to the rise of fast fashion, cheap clothing isn’t just for the young — it’s… for everyone.”

Consequently, “in addition to millennial and Gen Z women, an increased number of people now see shopping as an accessible way to cope with their feelings around anxiety and depression.” And, “like exercise, drugs, or any other form of obsessive behavior, the downsides [to compulsive shopping] are decidedly more serious than figuring out how to fit everything in your closet” and can range from “guilt to stress to bankruptcy.”

“The shopping and spending activity itself are associated with a feeling of happiness and power, which is immediately, but temporarily, gratifying,” one researcher said, and “guilt and remorse” often follow those feelings close behind, which leads to another shopping trip.

(Or, to borrow from noted literary hero, Fat Bastard, we shop because we’re unhappy, and we’re unhappy because we shop.)

So how do we curb the behavior? It’s actually not that hard, researchers found: “Being thankful… for your current wardrobe may be just the thing to keep you from buying a cheap outfit you’ll throw away after a few uses.” Seems simple enough in these trying times.

You can read more about it at Well + Good.

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