Are you a shopaholic?

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(STLMoms) - Do you shop a lot?  Maybe too much? You could be a shopaholic.

Psychotherapist Dr. Russell Hyken tells us what the warning signs are.

Signs you may be a Shopaholic:

Check your closet.  Do you have many unopened items?
I am not talking about the sweater your aunt gave you last holiday season, but about items you selected on your own that are unopened or still have their tags attached. You may have even forgotten about some of these possessions - that`s a problem.
You often purchase things you don`t need or didn`t plan to buy
You`re easily tempted by items that you can do without like that tenth IPod case.  And you may be particularly vulnerable to compulsive buying habits if you have a particular materialistic 'obsession,' like shoes or designer handbags. Just because your splurges tend to stick to one category doesn`t make them any more rational.

A bad mood sparks an urge to shop
Compulsive shopping is an attempt to fill an emotional void, like loneliness, lack of control, or lack of self-confidence. Shopaholics also report feelings of being 'out of sorts' if they haven`t had their shopping fix. So, if you tend to shop after a bad day or shop to pick up your mood, you may have a problem.

Tips to avoid being a Shopaholic.
Identify triggers.  This is the most important strategy to avoid compulsive shopping. Take note of what`s likely to send you off to the nearest department store - whether it`s an argument with your significant other or frustration after a business meeting. When these feelings overcome you, resist shopping at all costs and find a healthier way to work it out.

Carry only enough cash to buy what you went for. Leave your debit and credit cards at home. Create a shopping list with estimated costs, and stick to it when you`re at the store. And stay out of your favorite store if you can`t resist the merchandise.

Ask for help. If you`re still struggling with compulsive spending, don`t be afraid to ask for help. You can start with self-help books or by asking a friend or family member to help keep you in check, but it might also be wise to enlist professional help. Consider therapy, resources like such as Debtors Anonymous and a therapist that specializes in OCD and addiction.

Shopaholics are all types.  Compulsive shopping does not only affect women, but it is now believed to affect both genders almost equally. It is blind to income, race and age, and compulsive shopping negatively affects more than one out of every 20 Americans.