For many people, the real joy of the holiday season comes from shopping, whether it’s getting to the store at 4 a.m. for the best bargains or finding that impossible-to-find holiday toy.
The pleasure you feel from every shopping victory is real. Shopping, like any new or exciting experience, activates the brain’s reward center, triggering the release of dopamine. That’s the same brain chemical released by drug use, gambling and other addictive behaviors.
"Most people report that shopping is fun and exciting, and they like seeing new products in the stores," said University of Iowa psychiatry professor Dr. Donald Black, who earlier this year wrote a review article about shopping addiction. “The reality is that shopping is America’s No. 1 pastime and most people shop because it’s enjoyable to them."
“大部分人都表示购物让人又快乐又兴奋，他们喜欢在店里看到新商品，”艾奥瓦大学(University of Iowa)精神病学教授唐纳德·布莱克(Dr. Donald Black)今年初在一篇关于购物癖的评论中这样写道：“现在的现实就是，购物是美国排名第一位的休闲活动，大部分人购物，是因为他们乐在其中。”
Dopamine is a powerful brain chemical that gives you a shopping high. Just as people on drugs make bad choices, people caught up in a shopping high can make bad choices, too. That’s why impulse purchases, overspending and buyer’s remorse are so common.
Everybody at some point has spent too much money at the store or regretted a purchase. Indiana University professor Ruth Engs, who studies shopping addiction, says true shopping addicts buy things they never use — often they have racks of clothes and other items with the price tags still attached. Instead of buying one or two items as they intended, they return from a shopping excursion with bags and bags of purchases. And sometimes they hide purchases from family members.
每个人都碰到过在店里不小心多花了一大笔钱，或者为买了某件东西痛心疾首的情况。印第安纳大学(Indiana University)的鲁丝·安格斯(Ruth Engs)教授专门研究购物癖的问题，她说，真正的购物癖患者会购买那些自己永远用不着的东西——在他们的衣柜里，会发现有很多衣服和配饰的价签还没有摘下来。他们不是买一两件真正需要的东西，而是每次提着大包小包的战利品，这才算结束了一次购物之旅。而且有时候他们会把买的东西藏起来，瞒着不让家人看到。
When considering an impulse purchase, the best advice is to put it on hold for a day. Walking away will allow you to recover from the dopamine surge of shopping so you can think more clearly about whether you really need and can afford the item.
Dr. Engs notes that the holidays can trigger shopping binges among those who are not compulsive the rest of the year. If you’re feeling caught up in the holiday shopping frenzy, Dr. Engs has created a Web site with advice to help people make better shopping decisions. Among her do's and don'ts:
Create a shopping list and stick to it. Say no to impulse purchases.
Use cash and debit cards and leave credit cards at home. The reality of your bank account will prevent you from succumbing to shopping excitement.
Don't shop when you're traveling or visiting relatives. Shopping in a new place adds to the novelty of shopping and puts you at risk for buying things you don’t need.