Black Friday

Crowds walk past a large store sign displaying a Black Friday discount in midtown Manhattan in this November 2018 file photo. A doctor at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center says Black Friday sales can trigger the same response in people’s brains as drugs and alcohol.

BARBOURSVILLE — It’s that time of year when pre-Christmas sales like Black Friday and Cyber Monday begin inundating consumers.

Those who hit the Huntington Mall during Thanksgiving week seemed to be gearing up for the bigger sales events.

“Of course I am shopping on Black Friday,” said Deborah Carson, who was shopping Tuesday. “I get the best deals.”

Carson admits she is a Type A personality: She doesn’t procrastinate. She makes lists. She even plans out her shopping day on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that is considered one of the biggest holiday shopping days of the season.

“I guess you could say I am like Santa … I like making a list and checking it twice,” she said.

Carson doesn’t think she has a shopping disorder, but a doctor at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Stress Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program says folks like her need to beware.

Ken Yeager, director of the program, says these huge sales can trigger the same response in people’s brains as drugs and alcohol.

“We all want to do something nice for people, and if you bring it back to the simplest point, we all have that expectation of getting the perfect holiday gift, and perhaps at the perfect price. But a sign that you’ve gone too far is that you end up with a lower peace of mind, serenity and holiday cheer,” Yeager said. “Maybe it starts with an obsession and high expectation, but then you recognize yourself being short-tempered or frustrated getting from place to place, which could lead to even more aggressive behaviors.”

Yeager says competing with others to snag the best deals crosses the “unhealthy” line, which can happen any time competition is involved, when adrenaline joins the party.

“It can go over the line when competition becomes aggression,” he said. “We see this in sports all of the time, but we’ve also seen this in Black Friday where there have been stampedes at stores from the Black Friday deals. That’s why stores started staggering them.”

Yeager reports people’s reason for feeling like they have to participate in Black Friday and Cyber Monday events can be a combination of things.

“These include people’s competitive nature, a desire to do something for your loved ones, high expectations, and economic stressors that motivate one to get everything they want for their family and friends at the best price,” he said.

Yeager says personality types that are more prone to fall prey to Black Friday madness are the bargain hunter, the risk taker, the gambler and those with Type A personality disorder.

“You can also add to the list the people who are more susceptible to advertising ploys,” he said.

Yeager’s advice for those crossing into an unhealthy Black Friday mentality is to breathe, step back and give yourself a reality check.

“Your worth to the person you’re giving the gift to has absolutely nothing to do with the present and everything to do with who you are,” he said. “I think people tend to lose track of that. We often feel like we have to give something, but the most important thing we can give is spending time with each other.”

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.

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