Shopping for oxytocin?




Retail therapy is on the lips of every woman at least a few times in her life; usually to explain why she has erratically rushed out to spend hundreds on the latest styles and patterns just to return home to a completely full robe with nowhere to shove anything. The word 'therapy' is appropriately used, as we all know deep down there is a genuinely good feeling associated with shopping. Generally speaking there is also direct correlation between our heightened need to shop and our emotional state. Why though in the 21st century has this become the ultimate emotional release for women? There's a lot cheaper ways to resolve our problems, such as getting amongst nature, talking (which we DO utilise frequently) or going for a long fast drive alone.

I’ve been thinking that possibly it’s the complete loss of control in that hour spent in the department store that we’re drawn to, fulfilling a craving for a break in the day-in, day-out schedule of our lives. I did a little bit of reading though on this to see if there is something else that drives us towards shopping and if that feeling we associate with it is a superficial happiness or a genuine one. Personally I'll admit to the afore mentioned reasons for erratic shopping and furthermore I'll admit to possibly being too influenced by Sex in The City. Turns out though (you may not be surprised to know) that the ‘happy effect’ of shopping is actually hormonal! The process of shopping for woman actually releases oxytocin, a hormone which is actually responsible for social and maternal bonding!

For woman oxytocin is released when doing things like breastfeeding or hugging a friend to sex and yes, you guessed it – shopping! Interestingly women produce MORE oxytocin then men AND it lasts for longer, it is a fundamental method of dealing with stress! (which is probably why we do it far more frequently than we'd like to admit.) So the next time you get given grief for having a mad hour in the shopping centre, feel free to blame it on oxytocin delirium!

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