The Link Between Bipolar Disorder and Shopping

Link Between Bipolar and Shopping

Are you bipolar and spending money on items you don’t need during a manic episode? If so, you’re not alone. Compulsive shopping is common among people diagnosed with bipolar disorder as part of their erratic behavior during a manic episode. Someone who’s bipolar and spending money on expensive items they don’t truly want or need may be attempting to cope with their emotions and mental health through this outlet. However, with proper treatment, it’s possible to prevent these episodes from spiraling out of control to protect your mental health and your finances.

Common Issues With Self-Diagnosis

Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that causes you to experience changes in your mood, energy levels, activities and ability to function in daily life. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the disorder currently affects around 2.3 million Americans. Three types of bipolar disorder are diagnosed differently based on the prevalence of depression, mania and hypomania:

  • Bipolar I: This type of bipolar disorder is defined by experiencing a minimum of one manic episode before a period of depression or hypomania.
  • Bipolar II: People with bipolar II disorder are diagnosed when they’ve had at least one depressive episode and a hypomanic episode but never a manic episode. Hypomania is milder than mania and may simply present as more energy or a heightened mood.
  • Cyclothymia: This form of bipolar disorder is diagnosed if a person has had periods of depression and hypomania for at least two years. As the name suggests, the episodes of cyclothymia are less severe and more cyclical.

Each type of bipolar disorder is a unique diagnosis based on varying symptoms and occurrences of manic and depressive episodes. If you suspect that your shopping habits are due to manic episodes brought on by bipolar disorder, it’s important not to self-diagnose the condition. Self-diagnosis can result in a lack of necessary treatment or incorrect treatment. It also overlooks potential underlying causes of your symptoms. It’s important to seek professional treatment and support when you experience signs of bipolar disorder.

Why Does a Manic Episode Encourage Shopping?

Manic spending occurs when a person with bipolar disorder goes on a shopping spree during a manic episode. There are many potential reasons why someone with bipolar may make impulsive or risky spending decisions during a manic episode.

It’s Part of Their Reckless Behavior

Bipolar spending can occur during manic episodes for the same reason that people in a manic state may partake in other risky behaviors, such as gambling, having unprotected sexual relations and engaging in dangerous driving. Racing thoughts and irrational ideas are also symptoms of a manic episode in bipolar disorder, both of which can result in impulsive behaviors, such as spending money. A 2012 study on compulsive buying and bipolar disorder concluded that compulsive spending was linked to bipolar disorder, especially cyclothymia, occurring with mood episodes that weren’t severe but came on abruptly and frequently.

It’s an Attempt To Boost Their Mood

Conversely, for someone with bipolar disorder going through a period of depression, spending money could result from an attempt to improve their mood. This habit of spending during a depressive episode to try to feel better and overspending recklessly during manic episodes can become a vicious cycle. However, depressive spending isn’t as problematic as manic spending, which can incur financial troubles for the individual.

They’ve Rationalized the Purchase to Themselves

Another Academy of Research & Improvement at Solent NHS Trust study found that the connection between manic episodes and compulsive spending is linked to the racing thoughts someone experiences while in a manic state. While it may seem like someone walking into a shop and making a large purchase is a reckless or impulsive decision, someone experiencing mania may see the purchase as part of a bigger plan. For example, they may constantly cycle through business ideas in their mind that seem realistic and believe will earn them a lot of money. During the manic shopping spree, they might purchase expensive items they justify as part of this business plan.

The Issue With Someone Who’s Bipolar Spending Money

It may not seem like a significant problem if you feel inclined to go shopping while experiencing a manic episode. However, manic spending is unlikely to reflect your usual spending habits or rationale for making a purchase. Due to your heightened state of activity, the rapid pace of your thoughts and resulting impulsivity, it’s probable that shopping during a manic episode can be detrimental to your finances.

Similar to the 10.6% of people with bipolar disorder at moderate risk of gambling, manic spending is likely to be more lavish to experience a rush or a high. This may mean purchasing beyond your means, eventually resulting in insurmountable credit card debt. An inability to pay off your debt in a timely fashion can also negatively impact your credit score. A poor credit score can hinder your ability to get loan approval when purchasing a car, a house or another significant investment in the future. At its worst, it can leave you in a financial position that jeopardizes your ability to pay bills.

How To Manage Shopping Due to Manic Episodes

Shopping alone isn’t a treatable aspect of a manic episode. However, if you’re aware of this tendency, you can ask someone you trust to hold onto your credit cards, debit card or cash when you’re experiencing a manic episode. The most effective approach to managing shopping due to manic episodes is by addressing the cause, which is treatment for bipolar disorder. By treating bipolar disorder with medication and therapy, you can live a balanced life that’s relatively symptom-free. While about 37% of people seeking treatment experience a depressive or manic relapse within the first year, long-term treatment is ideal for managing the condition.

Seek Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

To manage bipolar disorder effectively, it’s necessary to seek professional treatment from a facility such as Restore Mental Health. We offer many options for treating bipolar disorder, including psychotherapy, group therapy, support groups and medical integration. Our comprehensive range of programs suits every lifestyle, including inpatient and outpatient care. Call Restore in South Florida today at (877) 594-3566 to start the journey to recovery. Our compassionate team is ready to provide the support you need to manage your bipolar disorder and get a handle on excessive spending due to manic episodes.