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5 Types of Behavioral Addictions & How to Deal with Them

We have been told to do things that we enjoy and find happiness in. So, if you are feeling low, you usually will reach out to things that make you feel better. For some, it may be a retail therapy day with friends and for others, it could be unwinding after a long day in front of a gaming console. But how much is too much and when does a seemingly safe hobby become an addiction? Let’s find out.

What are Behavioral Addictions?

Addiction is a condition of being constantly engaged in the activity of consumption or of particular behaviors that are harmful to one’s mental, physical, or emotional health. In other words, it is the inability to stop doing or using something.

Though the term ‘addiction’ is commonly used to refer to substance addiction like drugs or alcohol, there are other forms of addictions that are equally detrimental. They are called Behavioral Addictions and could be described as relentless engagement to certain activities.

Types of Behavioral Addictions

Here are the 5 most common types of Behavioral Addictions.

1. Social Media Addiction

Studies suggest that compulsive social media use affects 6 to 14 percent of Internet users. The most common symptoms include being constantly ‘plugged in’, anger or irritation when access is denied, and a lack of focus and concentration. Research presented in 2014 at the American Psychiatric Association seemed to support the idea of Internet addiction by showing changes in the brain identified by neuroimaging.

2. Gaming Addiction

Most common among boys and men – the ‘can’t get my hands off the console’ situation. It is just not the activity of playing video games, but also includes ‘thinking’ about gaming all or most of the time or feeling low when not playing. Sometimes, this may also lead to lack of interest in other activities and daily chores.

3. Food Addiction

This includes cravings despite of being full, hiding eating from others, and binge eating. The symptoms range from over-eating, eating to ease overwhelming emotions, and feeling of guilt after eating. Research shows that food, like addictive drugs, can also trigger feel-good brain chemicals like dopamine.

4. Shopping  Addiction

This is the compulsive urge to buy, often resulting in buying items which is of no use to the buyer. This addiction results in a cyclical emotional ‘high’ while shopping followed by a ‘low’ later, even instilling feelings of guilt due to the excessive nature of purchasing. Shopping addiction is often found to have association with anxiety and depression.

5. Plastic Surgery Addiction

This comes from distorted body image or a perceived notion of being ugly or deformed, resulting in multiple cosmetic surgeries to achieve ‘better’ looks. This can be aggravated or even caused by Body Dysmorphic Disorder where a perceived or even imaginary body defect can disrupt normal lifestyle. This addiction is also characterized by constant dissatisfaction even after multiple surgeries or a tendency to move onto a different feature or body part with a perceived defect.

How to Deal with Behavioral Addictions?

Many of these behavioral addictions are relatively new in the mental health world as many of them are connected with the advances in technology. However, there are many effective ways to break the cycle of addiction. Some of the most common and healthy ways to deal with these addictions are:

 – Reaching out to a trusted mental health professional

 – Cognitive behavior therapy, talk therapy, & group therapy

 – Setting a detoxification and exercise routine

 – Being accountable to a trusted person

 – Practicing self-love 

Written By:


Arpita Mitra Gupta

Holistic Therapist & Corporate Wellness Facilitator

Arpita Mitra Gupta is a Holistic Therapist and Corporate Wellness Facilitator at Illuminations. In her private consultations, Arpita focuses on healing through Integrated Hypnotherapy, Transpersonal Regression Therapy, Family Constellations & Metaphor Therapy, empowering her clients to take full responsibility for their lives. You can also book a free consultation with Arpita by clicking here.

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