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Dear Abby

Dear Abby:

Iam a 27-year-old stay-at-home mom with three kids. Two are my fiance "Sean's"; the littlest is ours together. Sean and I have been together almost seven years.

I need help. I am a very depressed person and have been for many years. I shop excessively and spend way too much -- sometimes all of our money -- and I don't know how to stop. Shopping makes me feel happy, and when I'm depressed (which is often), I go out shopping for stuff I don't even need. I have even started shopping online for stuff. I feel horrible about this. Sean and I have tried separate bank accounts, but when I'd run low I would just tap right into his. Please help me. I don't know what to do.

Spend-a-Holic in Ventura, Calif.

It is time to stop and take inventory of what you have and what you don't. You are substituting "things" for something important that's missing in your life. (Could it be a wedding ring?) Trying to self-medicate long-term depression by going on a spending spree is putting a Band-Aid on an infected wound.

Please contact your physician for a referral to a doctor who can give you medication to lift the depression, as well as counseling for your underlying problem. It's the only way to fix what's ailing you.

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