Shopping Addiction and Recovering from Bulimia


Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope

Eating disorders are often characterized by certain temperaments and personality traits. For example, individuals who suffer with bulimia nervosa may tend to be more compulsive, sporadic, sensation seeking, and impulsive.

Many of these traits may be predetermined genetically and are often manifested differently among individuals. For the person who is struggling with bulimia, these traits are often apparent through the progression of the eating disorder.

How Inherent Personality Traits Can Increase Risk of an Eating Disorder

As an individual with bulimia heals and recovers through the acute phase of the eating disorder, those same personality traits will still exist. A person who is inclined to be impulsive because of their temperament may turn towards other behaviors as the binging and purging from bulimia subsides.

For this reason, it is not uncommon to see other mental illnesses or behavioral disorders develop alongside an eating disorder. Many addictive type behaviors have common personality roots, which can make it easy for an individual to jump from on addiction to the next.

The Relationship of Shopping Addiction to Bulimia

Shopping addiction can be one such behavioral disorder that coincides with bulimia. Shopping and purchasing items compulsively may be derived from similar impulsive tendencies, and the way this may cause a person to feel may also mirror the euphoria or numbing effect of binging and purging with bulimia.

fashion-690184_640Some women and men who struggle with an addiction to shopping may purchase a large quanity of things just for the sake and experience of purchasing. This can be anything from food, to clothes, sporting goods, home décor and more.

Sometimes, It’s a Replacement Coping Mechanism to Bulimia

A person may be struggling with a shopping addiction if they are shopping compulsively, spending more than they can realistically afford, shopping as a reaction to a feeling, or feeling out of control with shopping behaviors.

Recovery from bulimia may mean that an addiction with another addictive type behavior has developed, such as a shopping addiction. In this case, while the bulimia may not be active, similar characteristics may still be present. In recovery, it is important to address any type of behaviors that are destructive or harmful to an individual and to approach treatment from all aspects to avoid the transference of behavioral disorders.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

Are you in recovery from bulimia nervosa? Is so, did you subsequently struggle with a shopping addiction in your recovery? How did you appropriately deal with this?

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 11th, 2015
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