Are you a shopaholic? Scientists prove it’s an illness!

People who shop excessively show signs of addiction, according to researchers at the University of Bergen.

Confessions of a Shopaholic

The researchers, at the Faculty of Psychology, have developed a new and unique method to measure shopping addiction: the Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale (BSAS) – based on coreaddiction elements recognized as diagnostic criteria for other addictions, according to a report published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Lead author Cecilie Schou Andreassen, Doctor of Psychology and Clinical Psychologist Specialist describes shopaholism as being “overly concerned about shopping, driven by an uncontrollable shopping motivation, and to investing so much time and effort into shopping that it impairs other important life areas.”

The Bergen study confirms that excessive shoppers display similar symptoms to those in drug addiction, alcoholism and other substance addictions. People with problematic shopping behavior experience craving, withdrawal, loss of control and tolerance. The research also provides evidence that younger females are most likely to shop excessively.Shopping addiction typically starts in late adolescence and emerging adulthood, and it appears to decrease with age.

Five key traits of a shopaholic
Dr. Andreassen’s team tested the BSAS and reviewed the roles of extroversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeableness and openness to experience in shopping addiction.

Extroverts tend to use shopping to uphold social status and sustain social attractiveness, such as by buying a new outfit for every occasion. The current study finds that extroverts need more stimulation than non-extroverts, and that they indulge in specific types of products as a way to express their individuality, enhance personal attractiveness, or as a way to belong to a certain privileged group, such as by purchasing high-end luxury goods.

People suffering from neuroticism, anxiety, depression and self-consciousness may shop to reduce negative emotional feelings. The Bergen researchers suggest that people scoring high on neuroticism engage excessively in different behaviors in order to escape from dysphoric feelings.

Conscientious and agreeable people may be less prone
People with low conscientiousness scores display low ability to be structured and responsible, leading to impulse buying. The current study adds that conscientious people have better planning ability, high self-control and the ability to resist temptations.

Agreeableness may deter shopping and other addictions, as addictive behavior can lead to conflict. However, agreeable people, being more trusting, may be more prone to exploitative marketing techniques.
Openness to experience may be negatively related, in that shopping addicts are less adventurous, less curious and put less emphasis on abstract thinking than their counterparts.
Intellectually curious people may avoid excessive shopping by having a better perception of reality that deters them from such activities. Some consider shopping too conventional an activity, at odds with central features of the openness/intellect trait, such as imagination, curiosity and unconventional values.

Low self-esteem and anxiety are factors
The current study shows that low self-esteem is common among shopping addicts, for whom irrational beliefs, such as “buying a product will make life better” and “shopping this item will enhance my self-image,” may trigger excessive shopping behavior.

Depression and psychological distress, such as anxiety, have been linked to shopping addiction, as people seek to escape or cope with negative feelings. The current study confirmed this, but at the same time, excessive shopping may cause anxiety and depression because of the consequences.

The Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale (BSAS)
The researchers set out to review the causes of shopping disorder and create an assessment tool that would take into consideration new awareness of the factors.
To construct the survey, seven addiction criteria were established, and four questions constructed for each, making a total of 28 items.
These were incorporated into a self-report questionnaire with additional questions about demographics, compulsive buying habits, personality, self-esteem, and symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The questions were distributed through the online edition of five nationwide newspapers in Norway in March, April and May 2014 to 23,537 participants, male and female, and covering a range of education levels and employment statuses.

Scoring “agree” or “completely agree” on at least four of the following seven questions may suggest addiction:

The items are scored on the following scale: (0) Completely disagree, (1) Disagree, (2) Neither disagree nor agree, (3) Agree and (4) Completely agree:

. You think about shopping/buying things all the time
. You shop/buy things in order to change your mood
. You shop/buy so much that it negatively affects your daily obligations (e.g., school and work)
. You feel you have to shop/buy more and more to obtain the same satisfaction as before
. You have decided to shop/buy less but have not been able to do so
. You feel bad if you, for some reason, are prevented from shopping/buying things
. You shop/buy so much that it has impaired your well-being

Is shopping the real elixir of life?

I have always been told that I look younger than my real age – and some new research comes my way which clearly reveals why. I love shopping. And it concludes, shopping makes you feel young!

US researchers, at the Oregon State University, interviewed people in their late 80s, their family members and their carers, and discovered that old age seems to officially begin when you…stop shopping!

Great news – so I can carry on then? The study showed that when older people maintain the ability to shop for themselves, and perform other tasks on their own, they are less likely to be viewed and treated as “old.”

So no excuses then to not accept an invitation to the Cannes Shopping Festival on the grounds that I write about healthy ageing! After all you’ve got to keep up the regular shopping habit to stay young – and this is vital information for Elixir’s readers after all.


Shopping Festival
The Palais des Festival in Cannes (above) where the stars walk the red carpet is  the backdrop for the annual Shopping Festival

So I set off for Cannes on a shopping fact-finding-mission with a feeling of mixed emotions. I confess I have been there before – as a showbusiness journalist, working for a national newspaper, and I partially look back in horror, as it was the only time and place I ever wished I was on hard core drugs. So I sank a lot of quality champagne instead…

Nearly decapitated in Cannes

With daily deadlines looming, filmstars and press conferences popping up everywhere, French taxi drivers who let down your car tyres, press attaches who give preference to local old age pensioners to press conferences, nearly being decapitated by paparazzi photographers who spotted me interviewing Bobby from Dallas, foreign journalists who think a scoop is asking Paul Newman about his pasta sauces, escaping the clutches of Hollywood film moguls, the inevitable rain and the only place to buy an umbrella is the Guicci shop – I knew I had to go! After all I may have almost dropped from exhaustion in Cannes but I had never really shopped until I dropped there!

Right from day one it was so deja vu. I am picked up from Nice airport by Palais des Festival chauffeur John who normally drives the stars – gawd if only I had known him when I was a showbiz hack I’d have been up there on the front page!

Cocktails and glamour

My intinerary for this event – which by the way is a public one – is three days of various activities around the theme of shopping: cocktail parties at all the exclusive boutiques I never had the time or money to visit such as Gucci and Ferragamo, catwalk shows at the Palais des Festival, and various trips to local sites of interest and a helicopter trip around the Bay of Cannes and the islands.

There are a mix of journalists here to cover the event. I am the only one from the UK – the rest are mostly Italian fashion journalists from Milan – one did the cookery class with her Guicci handbag on her shoulder.  I grew very fond of them later – when I knew how crazy they were – trying to hug the toy boy models in their boxer shorts and more! Oh and the Russians, one of whom arrived with an empty suitcase and spent all her time rushing into various designer shops to fill it up.

I stay at the Novotel – which is a smart hotel behind the town and where I remember interviewing the lovely and very handsome actor Simon MacCorkindale  – readers may remember him in Manamal. He sadly died of cancer in 2010. But others get to stay at some of the newer boutique hotels that have sprung up around the Rue des Antibes since I was there.

Fashion shows and glamour

So the next few days are a busy round of fashion shows (in the evenings) at the Palais with pre-show drinks at the luxury boutiques not far away in the Croisette – Ferragamo, Azzaro, Georges Rech, Apostrophe and Swarovski. Oh how can I cope?

These are all my favourite designers – not that I can afford the gear when I should be putting money into my pension(boring!). But great fun to role up in a chauffeured limo…until you see the locals which shocked me when I first went to the Cote’d’Azur – those stick thin elderly women with osteoporosis who look young from behind and like Norma from Psycho from the front! Oh and one thing that doesn’t change is the dog (poodle) mess – so watch out for that!

So I take a break and wander along to the Palais – there is now a Hagan Daas ice cream shop right opposite the red carpet. God I hated that red carpet – being a no-one that everyone looked at and said who the f–k is that in French or whatever…and I thought I might fall down the stairs in front of millions of people.

So I took a seat ordered myself a glass of champagne and a scoop of the vanilla with some milk chocolate sauce sat down and wondered about the meyhem that would be taking place in a few days and that luckily I would not be part of. Phew!

First Night Cannes

The highlight of the catwalk shows during my visit was the Ferragamo show – and I don’t have photos of this because cameras were confisgated.

The Festival also showcases new talent and I came away the owner of a very inappropriate dress for a lady of my age – see below (the designer is wearing it).

Shopping in Cannes Fashion Show

Yes – I am the proud owner of the dress on the right (above) which to date I have never worn! I am open to offers – particularly if it matches your yacht in Antibes! It’s backless by the way.

One of the most exciting things I learned about was the food market near the station. Clearly when I had been before I didn’t time to see it. But the fresh food and the variety and quality of it is amazing. There’s another non-food market selling shoes that look like Tod’s for a tenth of the price. I couldn’t resist a pink suede pair for £15!

Cannes Market
Cannes market above has an abundance of  fresh quality vegetables and fruit

The point of the festival is also to show you that it doesn’t have to be expensive to stay in Cannes – there are lots of great hotels that don’t cost the earth and Bed & Breakfast places – the tourist office below the Palais has a list.

And there is a street right behind the expensive Rue de Antibes where you can find great clothes and shoes at regular and bargain prices. During the festival there are also various discounts for Shopping Festival participants.

It’s a great way and time to visit Cannes before the prices get inflated for the Film Festival. This year’s Shopping Festival took place in April. But there’s always next year!

Shoe on Beach

And I have to leave you with this photo above – one of the Italian girls slipped off her very high heels – and they glittered in the sunshine on the beach in April and it was hot, the rose wine was chilling in silver cooler and we watched a fashion show on the beach….bliss.

Cannes beach

April on the beach in Cannes above

Shopping 2015


With special thanks to Karin Osmuk, press attache at the Palais des Festival, Cannes,  Côte d’Azur, for all her help.

Shopping adds years to lifespan – new study

Washington: If you want to live longer you should spend more time shopping, ccording to a study that was recently published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

shopping.jpgA low-impact physical activity like shopping improves heart health as well as balance and coordination in the elderly, says Kelly D. Horton, a research and policy specialist at the Centre for Healthy Aging in Washington DC. She told HealthDay:

“Shopping provides an enjoyable activity and helps older adults feel included in their community. In addition to physical activity, frequent shopping among older adults has also been related to improved nutrition intake.”

And men seemed to benefit more than women, said the study,  with the men who went shopping once a day being less likely to die by 28 percent. Compared to formal exercise, researchers said that shopping is an easy way for elderly people to get leisurely physical activity.

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Turkish delight in Istanbul – the Ritz-Carlton Spa


by Avril O’Connor

There really is no other city like Istanbul. Uniquely straddling both Asia and Europe, it is frenetic melting pot of cultures and peoples. It is architecturally breathtaking with the greatest examples of Byzantine and Ottoman art and architecture anywhere in the world today.

At the same time it is a city undergoing an economic revival with entrepreneurs opening up trendy shops, bars and restaurants. It has one of the youngest populations of any city. In the numerous cafes you are more likely to find yourself sitting next to Prada-clad locals than anyone wearing a Fez.

So whether you want to marvel at some of the world’s greatest buildings or shop till you drop, Istanbul will have something wonderful and enchanting for you. Another reason to visit now is that Istanbul has been named European City of Culture next year – so get there before the crowds!

One of the most luxurious and romantic places to stay is the Ritz-Carlton Hotel right in the centre of the city. There are not many hotels where you can watch a giant supertanker pass by your bedroom window! And don’t be fooled by the skyscraper exterior, inside this hotel is seriously sumptuous. It is decorated in Ottoman-style splendor with service to match. All rooms have flat screen TV, broadband Wi-Fi internet access, Bulgari toiletries, huge marble bathrooms and terry bathrobes.

The Laveda Spa, offering both Western and Eastern therapies using Carita of Paris products is the best in the city. There is a spacious pool surrounded by Byzantine columns and a painted ceiling to recreate the Istanbul sky. You can try a Turkish Haman – a traditional ritual of exfoliation and cleansing with a total body wash, followed by a massage.

In summer the open air spa allows you to feel the gentle breezes while indulging in a massage or other therapy as you gaze across the Bosphorus. One particular sumptuous and relaxing treatment is the Sultans Royal Six Hands Massage which is carried out by three therapists. Beware this spa is so relaxing that you may not want to leave –  but it does have a poolside bar!

Fact Box Ritz-Carlton Istanbul FROM $452, 290 £229, per room per night (+ 8%VAT) Breakfast: $43, €28, £22 (+VAT)

Traditional Hamam Treatment 30 mnts: $83, €53, £42
Laveda Signature Body Massage 60 mnts: $142, €91, £72
Sultan’s Royal Six-Hand Massage 50 mnts: $375, €240,£190 T: +90 (0) 212 334 44 44.

Turkish Airlines: Reservations: 0844 800 6666 (from the UK)
Economy return to Istanbul from the UK (inc tax and charges prices may vary ): From Stansted $276, €177, £140; from Heathrow $393, €252,£199: Business return to Istanbul from (inc tax and charges) – from Stansted $889, €570, £450; from Heathrow $966, €619,£489

Don’t Miss

Visit the Blue Mosque is famous for its slender minarets and blue tiles made by craftsmen from the town of Iznik. Afterwards walk through the gardens to Haghia Sophia another of the city’s splendid mosques. Inside is a marvelous array of mosaics, friezes and more Isnik blue tile decorations. Spend the afternoon at Topkapi Palace which was home to Selim the Sot, who drowned in the bath after drinking too much champagne; Ibrahim the Mad, who lost his reason after being locked up for four years and Roxelana, consort of Süleyman the Magnificent. Must sees are the harem and the jewels.

The Spice Bazaar where you can buy all kinds of exotic foodstuffs including handmade Turkish Delight and the finest Persian saffron. Follow with lunch at Pandeli which is above the main waterside entrance to the market – fantastic mezze including caviar, followed by aubergine pastry and steamed sea bass. There are three salons covered in stunning turquoise glazed tiles and on the walls are the photos of celebrities such as Audrey Hepburn, who have dined there over the years. Misir Çarşi 1, Eminönü, 36420. T: +90 (0)212 527 3909

The Grand Bazaar is a huge Ottoman shopping complex where you can buy everything from carpets, leather goods, to ceramics, jewellery and the finest pashminas.

There are bargains to be had but you must haggle. Buy beautiful diamonds and brown topaz earrings at Jewels Edel– Kapaliçarşi Kalpakçilar Cad no 73. T+ 90 212 527 9797. Email

Topaz Restaurant & Bar This is a new restaurant, with walls of glass, perched on a hill in the Gurnussuyu district with spectacular views, particularly at night, of the city and the Bosphorus. Sophistictated Mediterranean and Turkish menu. T + 90 (0)212 249 1001.

Kanyon Shopping Mall

The place to buy designer labels. A modern shopping emporium with a Harvey Nichols store, and boutiques such as Dolce & Gabanna, Gucci and Banana Republic, Mango, Next and Max Mara

Ismail Acar’s Gallery

One of Istanbul’s most famous artists has a rather unusual gallery spread across several floors of a wooden house. Ismail works across several different mediums, incorporating traditional historical themes into contemporary works of art including portraits and even kaftans. He has exhibited in galleries in New York, London and Strasbourg. Karaköy, Lüleci Hendek Cad. No: 116/1 Beyoğlu. +90 (0) 212 252 03 88 Email:

Bosphorus cruise
– hire a motor yacht with butler to see the waterside summer residences of the Ottoman aristocracy and foreign ambassadors built in the 17th,18th and 19th century. The rates for private boat tour (min. 2 hrs) on an 18-metre motor yacht accommodating 12 passengers starts from $780, €500, £395 (+18% VAT). $390, €250, £197 (+18% VAT) for each additional hour. Arrange through your hotel concierge.

Acupuncture can relieve Xmas stress


London: *One in five Britons suffers from stress during the festive season. Tiredness, lack of exercise, an overload of people, alcohol, food, spending and over-excited children can all contribute to increasing levels of stress.

Beverly Dickins, acupuncturist and British Acupuncture Council member said the pressures at this time of year can have a very real impact on our well-being.

“From shopper’s backache and Christmas dinner panic to December dehydration and over-spending insomnia, the festive season is a stressful time for many of us,” she said.

“The most common symptom of stress is a breakdown in your immune system, leaving you susceptible to colds and illness. Eating fattening foods, taking less exercise and stressful situations between family members can really take its toll on your health.”

“Holistic therapies such as acupuncture can help you cope with these demands and enable you to stay on top of things.”

Stress, anger, or any intense emotion acts like a traffic jam, blocking the free flow of energy in the body. One of the many symptoms people who are very stressed experience is upper back, shoulder and neck pain. This is because stress causes the ‘snarling up’ of the energy passing through channels in these areas causing pain, tension and stiffness – often resulting in headaches as well.

Through acupuncture, these energy blockages can be addressed. Acupuncture can help energy flow smoothly, and alleviate not only the symptoms of stress and anxiety, but the underlying stress and anxiety itself.

In addition, acupuncture improves circulation of blood throughout the body. The calming nature of acupuncture also helps decrease heart rate, lowers blood pressure and relaxes the muscles.

Beverley said as the winter days become shorter and colder and with most of us trying to cram in last minute work, many people will start to feel tired and rundown as the festive season approaches.

“In over 25 years of practice I have been continually impressed at the breadth and power of acupuncture as it has something for everyone and can really help in situations like this,” she said.

“Acupuncture can assist with the following symptoms:

Feeling unwell and tired – acupuncture can elevate your mood and return good energy levels to your body

Feeling stressed – acupuncture can calm you down and you can learn how to stimulate acupressure points to assist with ongoing anxiety

Hangovers and eating to excess- acupuncture’s capacity to cleanse the organs can help restore wellbeing after diet and alcohol excess.”

To find your nearest qualified British Acupuncture Council practitioner please visit < ahref=""> or call T: + 44 (0)20 8735 0400

About the British Acupuncture Council
The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) has a membership of over 2,800 professionally qualified acupuncturists and is the UK’s largest professional body for the practice of acupuncture.

BAcC members practise a traditional, holistic style of acupuncture diagnosis and treatment based on a system developed and refined over 2,000 years. To achieve BAcC membership, practitioners must first undertake extensive training in traditional acupuncture (minimum three years full-time or part-time equivalent), which includes physiology, anatomy and other biomedical sciences appropriate to the practice of acupuncture.

*Research courtesy of