Someone who suffers from a process addiction to shopping, gaming or gambling lives a life full of ups and downs – feeling euphoric during the high of performing the activity and then depressed immediately following. It’s not different from the experience of someone addicted to an illicit drug.
Emotional Extremes: Highs
Much like someone with a depression disorder or drug addiction, someone with a process addiction spends much of their time at either emotional extreme, and rarely do they experience feelings in moderation. Someone with a shopping addiction may become giddy and excited just anticipating a shopping trip. The same applies to a gambler, someone who hoards things, or someone who binge eats. They are happiest when they are doing the activity they are addicted to. They may have boundless energy and be on top of the world during their activity, but once they stop, things come crashing down around them.
Emotional Extremes: Lows
The low times, the times outside of shopping, collecting, gambling, eating, etc. are very much like depression or coming off drugs. The person may regret the money they spent while on their high, or the time or energy they wasted on their addiction. They may feel like there is nothing to live for anymore.
A person with a process addiction may be able to hide their sickness from family and friends for a long time. Because there can be such a change in mood, people close to the person may not understand the problem. If they’re concerned that their loved one seems depressed, it may only last a day and then they are happy and carefree again.
However, there are signs present when interest in an activity becomes more serious. If someone’s actions such as shopping, gambling, or eating have begun to interfere with their everyday life, there may be a problem. If a person is too preoccupied with their activity that nothing else is as important, there may be a problem. If a person needs to be engaged in their activity in order to be happy, there may be a problem.
Process addictions like hoarding, eating disorders, and shopping addictions are serious problems and often need some sort of professional help. We need to be careful not to make light of a situation when a person is not able to control themselves. We need to be more aware of these kinds of addictions so that we can offer help to loved ones when necessary.