WOODLAND HILLS (CBSLA.com) — Have you ever noticed yourself purchasing something to make yourself feel better?

In fact, this occurs more than you would think — and researchers are now referring to it as “retail therapy.”

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Derek Rucker is the co-author of new study coming out of Northwestern University that shows the pitfalls of shopping to counter traumatic experiences.

He explained to CBS2’s Elsa Ramon that most people don’t realize how emotional purchases can dig them into debt.

Don’t fret, though. Rucker recommends making purchases to motivate your career or improve your life as a positive way to overcome emotional bumps in the road and avoid impulse grabs.

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Retail therapy is an act that Sami Bennett knows all too well. Bennett shared with Ramon that after her mother passed away, she turned to shopping as an escape, which she regrets to this day.

“I went on eBay, and that was the worst thing I could have done,” said Bennett. “Ten thousand dollars later, I had collections of things that I couldn’t believe I bought. It was an escape, and I don’t want it around me because I do think about why I was purchasing it.”

“What’s amazing and remarkable about that story is that it fits really well into what we’re looking at,” added Rucker. “Now that she has these objects, when she looks back to them, it reminds her of that very sad time. That’s what we’re grappling with.”

In turn, Bennett has channeled her energy into running a Woodland Hills boutique called the Wood’N Hanger with her daughter Carly.

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Ironically, she says they find themselves playing therapist more than acting as shopkeepers to customers.