Doped Up on Shopping

Can shopping be an addiction?

While it's long been known that shopping tends to make people feel good, new research indicates that it has a direct effect on the brain's pleasure centers. It seems that a trip to Bloomingdale's can flood the brain with dopamine in a manner not dissimilar to that experienced by a drug addict getting a fix, or someone jumping from a plane for the first time, or someone tackling a new golf course.

That's because dopamine tends to get involved when someone is faced with something new, thrilling or challenging. A rack of designer dresses, apparently, holds the promise of the new and unfamiliar. And so a "shopping high" is the result. Which would also explain the somewhat empty feeling one has a few hours after making the purchase: The dopamine has, in effect, receded.

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