Stress and anxiety are common issues that everyone faces on a day to day basis, in different degrees. If you have a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety, then you may experience higher levels of stress in your life or feel more anxious in certain situations.
Both stress and anxiety are emotions that can trigger certain actions such as withdrawal and even emotional spending. Instead of turning to alcohol or drugs to improve their mood, people will turn to shopping which can lead to more spending and even more issues over time.
Understanding Emotional Spending
This type of behavior occurs when an individual spends money to improve their mood. Some may feel a ‘high’ when saving money on an item or others may feel good after buying something they enjoy. The feeling they receive from spending money makes them feel good, so the money continues to be spent.
Emotional spending is used to improve or maintain mood as well as cope with stress or deal with feeling loneliness. Individuals use emotional spending to deal with problems they have instead of turning to physical damaging coping mechanisms such as taking drugs or drinking alcohol or binge eating.
However, emotional spending can be just as damaging. If spending continues, over time, financial ruin can occur. Money runs out, and the individual continues to shop with credit cards or even stealing to be able to continue with their spending habits.
So, why are you spending more?
- You get a high from spending money. You feel good, which alleviates any feelings of stress or anxiety.
- Shopping helps you to avoid your problems. You can enjoy yourself when spending money, forgetting about your stress or anxiety.
- You feel in control. When you are spending money, you feel a sense of control that helps to outweigh any feelings of anxiety or stress.
- Avoiding Problems. Many individuals will use shopping to avoid their problems. Spending money allows them to think about something else, letting go of any feelings that are causing more stress or anxiousness.
- Need to Feel Better. For patients who emotionally spend, they need to feel better. Spending more money allows them to experience a feeling of happiness.
Acknowledging the Problem
Acknowledgment of the problem is the first step to recovery. The individual must be able to see that they are spending to cope with some type of behavior or mental issue, be it stress, anxiety, depression, etc.
Many times, the individual may be suffering from a dual diagnosis. The term dual diagnosis is used to describe when an individual has an addiction and a psychiatric disorder. In this case, the addition would be to spending money, and the disorder could be depression, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, schizophrenia, etc.
Once an individual recognizes the spending problem, an evaluation can be provided to discover the underlying issues. Dual diagnosis treatment centers offer evaluations and treatment to provide individuals with the proper care for the addiction as well as any mental health issues.
The mental health issues are feeding the addiction and the addiction, which would be spending money, continues because the mental health condition is not treated.
With a dual diagnosis, the patient will need to treat the mental issue as well as the addiction at the same time but in different ways. In most cases, a different doctor will be used to treat the issues associated with the dual diagnosis.
With a patient who is addicted to spending and suffers from depression, a professional who specializes, also, will help with the spending habits while a professional in the field of depression ill work on the emotional aspects.
The key to recovery is to treat both conditions equally in the right way. When only one aspect is treated, the behavioral patterns will start over. One feeds the other, so both need to be treated appropriately and the individual understand their behavior so that changes can be made.
The first step to getting treatment is to recognize that a problem exists. If you have found that you are an emotional spender, then you need to be treated for the addiction of spending as well as the emotional or mental cause behind the spending. A team of professionals will be needed to treat all underlying conditions as well as help you to disassociate the good feeling you get from shopping.
The patient must learn how to deal with feelings of depression, anxiety, stress, etc. in other ways instead of spending money. By learning new coping mechanisms and truly understanding behavior, changes can be made to ensure the individual is no longer spending recklessly and finances are not at risk.
Contact dual diagnosis treatment centers today to learn more about your options, including an evaluation to determine what the cause behind your spending is and how to seek treatment.