In the digital age, e-commerce platforms have revolutionised how we shop, bringing convenience and accessibility to our fingertips. Among online retail giants, Amazon stands tall as the undisputed leader, offering an extensive array of products available for purchase with just a few clicks. It is impressive the strides made and the support Amazon has given to Indian exporters and MSMEs. Recently Amazon reported that this Prime Day 2023, Amazon Global Selling saw 70% business growth YoY. And the top tier-2 & 3 cities to go global were Panipat, Indore, and Jaipur. This is truly impressive. However, with the ease of shopping on platforms like Amazon comes a darker side often overlooked – the mental health issues faced by addicted e-commerce shoppers.
Great to see the success of thousands of Indian exporters on Amazon Global Selling this #PrimeDay. These are early days for e-commerce exports in India and we are excited to play a part in taking #MadeinIndia to the world. pic.twitter.com/dOJBIQzc1D
— Amit Agarwal (@AmitAgarwal) July 24, 2023
The E-Commerce Addiction: Unraveling the Allure
With its vast product range, attractive deals, and seamless user experience, e-commerce platforms have managed to create an addictive shopping environment. The instant gratification of placing an order and having it delivered to one’s doorstep within days can be intoxicating. The “Add to Cart” is mesmerising and acts as a dopamine trigger, reinforcing a sense of accomplishment and pleasure, leading to repeated shopping behaviours.
Understanding the Mental Health Impact
Addiction to online shopping can lead to Compulsive Buying Disorder, a recognised mental health condition characterised by repetitive and excessive purchasing (Black DW. A review of compulsive buying disorder. World Psychiatry. 2007;6(1):14-18). It’s unbelievable how it can harm an individual’s financial stability, relationships, and self-esteem, where guilt, shame, and anxiety ride along. Shopping online may become an emotional coping mechanism, i.e. Emotional Shopping for individuals dealing with stress, anxiety, or other emotional challenges. They may seek temporary relief by indulging in retail therapy, which can create a cycle of emotional dependence on shopping.
Addicted e-commerce shoppers may increasingly isolate themselves from real-world interactions, choosing the virtual realm of online shopping instead. This social withdrawal could lead to loneliness, further exacerbating mental health issues. The stress of managing bills and debts can trigger or worsen anxiety and depression.
This dependency on shopping for personal validation, self-worth, and a sense of identity, relying on consumerism to fill emotional voids, can result in an unsustainable and unfulfilled lifestyle.
Identifying the Signs of Addiction
Recognising the signs of online shopping addiction can be crucial in addressing mental health issues before they escalate. A common sign could be constantly thinking about shopping and then feeling a loss of control over spending habits. Buying items not needed or used and then experiencing guilt or remorse after shopping. A typical indicator is also hiding the extent of shopping from family and friends. And looking for solace in shopping or spending a considerable amount the screen time on an e-commerce app are signs of addiction.
Breaking the Cycle: Coping Strategies and Seeking Help
Breaking free from online shopping addiction requires acknowledging the issue and seeking support. The triggers must be identified, and finding a healthier way to manage stress could be key. Creating a budget and sticking to it, or even limiting access to the e-commerce platform by deleting the payment methods or uninstalling the app from your devices, could help.
The Netflix documentary Minimalists: Less is Now is a great resource that would resonate with many people. You may or may not try the exercise the documentary recommends. But it would help understand addiction better and its wide-ranging impact on daily lives and mental health. Two childhood buddies, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, present minimalism as a way of living and its benefits.
Balancing Convenience with Mental Well-being
As the allure of e-commerce and the convenience of shopping continue to captivate consumers, it is essential to acknowledge the potential mental health consequences of its excess. Recognising the signs of addiction, seeking support, and adopting healthier coping mechanisms can help individuals balance indulgence and mental well-being in this ever-connected digital era.
It’s not just about the “Add to Cart” button but finding fulfilment and contentment beyond the confines of virtual shopping carts.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the publication