All About Shopping Addiction: Causes, Treatment, And When It's A Problem

What is Shopping Addiction?

A compulsive shopper who feels they have no control over their behavior is referred to as an addict to buying. Compulsive buying is a behavioral addiction that people engage in to feel better and avoid unpleasant emotions like anxiety and sadness. Shopping addiction can become a fixation that interferes with other aspects of your life, just like other behavioral addictions. The obsession that is perhaps most acceptable in society is oniomania, also known as shopping addiction.

What distinguishes normal shopping from shopping addiction?

Normal Shopping

Shopping Addiction

Bought goods are required and utilized

Most bought things are rarely used or required

No compelling need

An obsession with buying

Does not lead to financial difficulty

Causes the person's finances to suffer

Irregular spending

Persistent overspending.


There are several indicators that someone may have a purchasing addiction −

  • Constantly considering what they want to buy

  • Unwilling to put an end to their compulsive buying

  • Feeling a rush of exhilaration after making a purchase

  • Having second thoughts or remorse about their purchases

  • Financial difficulties or a debt repayment failure

  • Lying about their expenditures or concealing their acquisitions

  • Obtaining fresh credit cards while still having balances on old ones

  • Purchasing unnecessary items

  • When people are anxious or depressed, they shop.


Although there are many potential contributing variables, it is unclear what causes shopping addiction.

Attributes of the mind − Those who struggle to control their shopping urges tend to have a common personality trait that sets them apart from the general population. They frequently have poor self-esteem, are susceptible to influence, and are often kind, sympathetic, and polite to others despite repeatedly being lonely and isolated. They have a method of looking for social interaction by going shopping. It's common for people to acquire a shopping addiction to improve their self-esteem, though this usually doesn't work too well.

Publicity to advertising − Marketing and commercial messages are everywhere, and those with shopping addictions may be more susceptible to them. While advertising generally aims to exaggerate the benefits of purchases and imply that they will result in an escape from problems in life, some marketing gimmicks are intended to provoke impulse purchasing, and those prone to purchasing addictions should have their impulse control stressed.

Remedial Shopping − Shopping addiction, like other addictions, is typically a coping mechanism for overcoming life's emotional anguish and challenges. Sadly, it frequently makes matters worse for the buyer rather than better. Shopping for enjoyment and alleviating unpleasant emotions is sometimes called "retail therapy." This expression suggests that treating yourself to something can be as beneficial as seeking counseling or therapy. This is a false and useless assumption.

Aspects of Other Mental Health − Like with many other addictions, compulsive shopping often begins in late adolescence or early adulthood and is often accompanied by other mental health issues.

Putting all importance on stuff − Individuals with shopping addictions tend to be more materialistic than average consumers and attempt to support themselves by acquiring prestige symbols and gaining favor with others. Compared to other people, they spend more time in fantasy and struggle to control their urges, just like other addicts.

Managing Buying Compulsiveness

Learning different coping mechanisms for life's stressors is necessary to overcome addiction. Although it is possible to do this alone, many people find counseling or treatment helpful.

Restricting the use of credit and currency − You will be less likely to make impulsive purchases if you get rid of your credit cards and limit the amount of cash you have on you to only what you need in case of an emergency.

  • Avoid going shopping with other obsessive buyers − It's also a good idea to go out only with family or acquaintances who don't overspend because they can encourage you to control your spending.

  • Use others to your advantage − It can be helpful to transfer the duty to another family member, at least briefly, while you seek assistance if they can shop for necessities like food and household goods.

  • Create additional survival mechanisms − You need to engage in activities other than shopping if you want to break the pattern of using shopping to try to improve how you feel about yourself. This means you need to find different ways to occupy your spare time.

The following therapies appear to be effective for treating compulsive shopping −

  • Medications

  • Self-help publications

  • Self-help organizations

  • Money Guidance

  • Cognitive-behavioral treatment

There is a correlation between some personality traits found in the "shopaholic" personality and the ability to successfully establish and react to a therapeutic relationship. This ability is the best predictor of success in addiction treatment because it allows for the most effective treatment outcomes. Though some medications appear promising, there are conflicting results, so they shouldn't be relied upon as the only or only effective form of treatment; they should be emphasized.

Talk Therapy − It can aid in understanding the psychological causes of your addiction to buying. It can also assist you in overcoming your propensity to turn to buy as a coping mechanism. These are crucial elements in overcoming this mysterious disease.

Your excessive shopping may have harmed your connections. Additionally, getting psychological support can assist you in making amends and regaining the confidence of those who may have been damaged by your actions. Additionally, you might discover that counseling helps you develop deeper connections with others by helping you learn how to communicate with them in non-monetary ways.

Money Guidance − Depending on the severity of your shopping addiction, you might also benefit from financial therapy, especially if you have racked up debt due to overspending your income. The easy availability of cash is frequently what fuels the habit, so you may want to meet with a financial counselor or consultant at your bank to explore possibilities for restricting your access to easy spending, paying off loans and bank fees, and placing money in savings accounts that are less readily available.

These measures can potentially restrict the addict's access to the easy money that sustains their habit. You may also talk with a financial advisor or consultant provided by your bank to explore more options for limiting your expenditure.

Updated on: 04-Apr-2023


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