Do you ever shop in an attempt to make yourself feel better? If so, you are not alone. Many people purchase items they do not need in order to fight depression, often using a credit card. In fact, research shows that shopping increases levels of serotonin, a chemical in the brain that regulates mood. (Depression is associated with low levels of serotonin.) However, people usually feel depressed again once they are done shopping, especially after they receive their credit card bills. With a few adjustments you can fight the temptation to shop when you are depressed.
Find other ways to deal with depression.
Talk with a friend, take a bath, or read a book. Besides shopping, exercising is another activity that increases levels of serotonin, and it does not have to cost you anything. Examine what made you depressed in the first place, such as a strained relationship with a family member or a job you do not like, and, if you can, take action to improve that situation.
If needed, consider seeking professional help.
If your depression is persistent and preventing you from functioning normally a therapist may be able to help. If your medical insurance does not cover therapy and your funds are limited you can still get assistance. Catholic Charities (703-549-1390, www.catholiccharitiesusa.org) provides low-cost counseling to people of all faiths. Many YMCAs (800-872-9622, www.ymca.net) offer low-cost counseling services as well.
Take control of your finances.
While shopping can provide temporary good feelings, by addressing the reasons for the depression, using credit wisely in the future, and paying down existing debt you will be able to improve your mood without the headaches that come after the shopping spree is over.
Finances are a major cause of stress, and if you made some purchases with credit cards you may be overwhelmed by your debt. The first step is to avoid depending on the cards in the future. If you need to go shopping consider bringing with you just a small amount of cash, and leave everything else at home. This way you will not be able to spend more than the amount of cash you have. Creating and sticking to a budget can help you pay off the debt you already have. If you see that you currently are not earning enough money to pay for all of your expenses and debts consider what changes you can make, such as cutting back on dining out or getting a part-time job.