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“Crisis? Let’s go shopping, girls”

Economic crisis is pushing many women to overspend as a sort of medicine against misery, a study recently published says.

Psychologists say that the recession could force more women to overspend or increase their risk of mental illness.

University of Hertfordshire professor and author of Sheconomics, with her research Karen Pine found that 79% of women interviewed admitted they would go on a spending spree to cheer themselves up from the current economic hard times. “Some women use shopping as an emotion regulator, a way of anesthetising themselves to negative feelings or dissatisfaction with life. So worrying about money could, paradoxically, lead women to spend more,” its Karen Pine’s conclusion.

Of the 700 women surveyed, four out of ten named ‘depression’, and six out of ten named ‘feeling a bit low’, as reasons to go on a spending spree and overspend. Women commonly expressed the view that shopping has the power to make them feel better.

“Intense emotional state, high or low, could send women to the shops. This type of spending, or compensatory consumption, serves as a way of regulating intense emotions,” she said.

Ability to regulate emotions is crucial for mental and physical wellbeing. Humans adopt a wide variety of means of doing so, including drugs and alcohol. Shopping is one method increasingly adopted by women.

“If shopping is an emotional habit for women they may feel the need to keep spending despite the economic downturn,” said Professor Pine. “Or, perhaps worse still, if they can’t spend we might see an increase in mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.”

Not all the women in the survey felt cheered up by the shopping experience. One in four had experienced feelings of regret, guilt or shame after buying something in the week prior to the survey. And seven out of ten women had worried about money during the same period. Yet if these women shop when feeling down they risk getting trapped in a vicious cycle of highs and lows akin to that found in other addictions.

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This entry was posted on June 2, 2009 by in Culture, News and tagged , , , .
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