- Treatment for Shopping Addiction
- Therapy for Shopping Addiction
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Managing Shopping Addiction
- Shopping Addiction Support Groups
- Shopping Addiction Hotlines
- Treating Shopping Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders
- Compulsive Spending Recovery and Outlook
- Signs, Symptoms & Treatment for a Shopaholic
- What are the Signs and Symptoms of Shopping Addiction?
- Some of the signs of shopping addiction include:
- Additional Signs or Behaviors that Could be a Sign of Shopping Addiction
- How Does Shopping Addiction Interact with Drug Addiction?
- How are Shopping Addiction and Substance Use Disorders Treated?
- Compulsive Buying Disorder: When Shopping Addiction Becomes a Problem
- What Is Shopping Addiction?
- The Cycle of Shopping Addiction
- Signs of Shopping Addiction
- Problems Associated with Compulsive Shopping
- How to Recover from Shopping Addiction
- Intervention for Shopping Addiction
- Treatment for Shopping Addiction
- Compulsive Spending / Shopping
- Signs You Are a Shopaholic
- Who Is at Risk for Compulsive Spending?
- What Causes Shopping Addiction?
- Conditions Related to Compulsive Shopping
Treatment for Shopping Addiction
People struggling with compulsive shopping often feel control when they make purchases. In fact, compulsive shopping disorder is defined by being unable to resist the urge to shop.
Many people with shopping addictions make attempts to stop shopping, and may briefly succeed, only to resume overspending in times of stress.
This can make people feel hopeless as they try to figure out how to overcome shopping addiction.
Fortunately, shopping addiction help is available.
Mental health professionals continue to study different forms of shopping addiction treatment, including individual therapy, group therapy, self-management techniques and support groups.
While research has not yet established a recovery rate for shopping addiction, the outlook is good for people who participate in treatment and follow a treatment plan.
Therapy for Shopping Addiction
The primary form of treatment for shopping addiction is therapy. Addiction counselors sometimes offer shopping addiction counseling that uses a hybrid approach drawn from different styles of therapy.
Other counselors who provide therapy for shopping addiction specialize in a particular therapeutic method.
One of the most popular interventions for treating substance use and compulsive behavior disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
While research has not yet established the most effective therapeutic intervention for compulsive shopping disorder, it supports using CBT for shopping addiction. This is unsurprising, as CBT is one of the most effective mental health interventions for related disorders and overall.
CBT works by targeting cognitive symptoms first. The therapy is the theory that thoughts are easier to directly change than emotional or behavioral symptoms.
By helping people identify and challenge false beliefs, CBT can help people change the emotional and behavioral patterns caused by those thoughts.
For example, people with shopping addiction may believe that making a purchase will make a lasting difference in their lives. Examining and challenging this belief can reduce the motivation to act on an urge to shop.
A recent study on treatments for shopping addiction found that group CBT was more effective than any other method, including individual CBT. This may be because of the generally beneficial effects of group treatment, which include alleviating loneliness, guilt and shame. Alternately, it may be because the group format helps people practice CBT and observe cognitive patterns in real-time.
This same study showed that other approaches, including many styles of individual therapy, can effectively treat shopping addiction.
Managing Shopping Addiction
Many techniques for how to manage shopping addiction come from CBT, while others come from 12-step groups and interventions originally developed to treat substance use and other addictive disorders.
While people with severe compulsive spending disorders usually require formal treatment, self-help techniques can enhance therapy and help people start making changes before starting treatment.
Any of the following changes can help.
- Only shopping with a spending plan and a list in place
- Paying off or getting rid of as many credit cards as possible
- Waiting at least 24 hours before making a discretionary purchase
- Shopping with a companion who can talk them impulse purchases
- Avoiding the stores or online shops most ly to inspire compulsive spending
- Replacing shopping with other positive activities that boost mood, exercise
However, it is important to remember that making these changes requires support. It is difficult, if not impossible, to overcome addiction without help.
The right care team, which can include a therapist or family members and friends who are in recovery, can help a person new to recovery understand the process. This is especially important when someone experiences a setback.
Instead of seeing a recurrence of spending as a sign of failure or low personal worth, a person with the right support group can learn from it and move forward in their recovery.
Shopping Addiction Support Groups
For people in recovery, 12-step and other support groups can help in many ways. Talking to others who struggled with the same issues can reduce stigma and loneliness and teach effective approaches for overcoming addiction. These groups can also help people connect to higher sources of meaning and deeper sources of joy.
Fortunately, there are support groups specifically for people with compulsive spending disorder and related addictions. Shopping addiction support groups include the following:
- Debtors Anonymous
- Spenders Anonymous
- Shopaholics Anonymous
These groups hold meetings in many different communities. Local meetings can be found by searching online. In addition, there are online support groups for shopping addiction that can help people who do not have a local meeting to attend or who simply feel more comfortable online.
Shopping Addiction Hotlines
There is not a formal shopping addiction hotline, but there are several options for people who want to reach out by telephone and talk to someone about their compulsive spending disorder.
The United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) operates a 24-hour hotline for people wanting help with addiction: 1-800-662-HELP.
Additional options include the following:
- Search the internet for local addiction or crisis hotlines
- Call the addiction hotline at The Recovery Village at 352-771-2700
- Call the General Service Office of Debtors Anonymous at 800-421-2383
It is also possible to attend a Debtors Anonymous telephone meeting.
Treating Shopping Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders
People with shopping addiction frequently have at least one other co-occurring disorder. Research shows that anywhere from 60 to 100 percent of people who have a compulsive shopping disorder have a co-occurring mood, anxiety, personality or substance use disorder.
These co-occurring disorders significantly increase the risk of negative outcomes including hospitalization, suicide, legal problems and issues at work or at home.
Often, people develop multiple addictions in an attempt to cope with the stress of an underlying psychological disorder.
Fortunately, help is available. Shopping addiction dual diagnosis treatment can be provided by inpatient shopping addiction treatment centers or outpatient programs.
Rehab for shopping addiction typically involves multiple interventions that address different disorders and different aspects of each disorder. A typical program provides a suite of services that includes treatment groups, individual therapy, medication management and support groups.
This multi-tier approach is also known as integrated treatment, which is the most effective way to treat co-occurring disorders.
Not everyone with a mental health condition that responds to medication requires medication to treat it. However, psychiatric medications can be an important part of treatment for anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions.
They may also alleviate symptoms of shopping addiction.
Research shows that citalopram and other antidepressant medications can reduce urges to shop in people with a shopping addiction — especially people with comorbid mood and anxiety disorders.
Compulsive Spending Recovery and Outlook
Recovery from compulsive spending is possible. While research has not yet established a clear prognosis or recovery rate for shopping addiction, it does show that many people completely overcome the disorder.
As with any other addiction, participating in treatment and building a strong support system are essential elements of recovery.
In time, and with persistence, people can replace shopping with other activities that are even more joyful and address the underlying causes of their addiction.
If you or a loved one struggle with a substance use disorder and a co-occurring shopping addiction, help is available.
The Recovery Village operates treatment centers across the United States that provide integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders.
If you want to learn more about treatment for addictive disorders, contact The Recovery Village. A representative can help you explore available options and identify a program that can work for you.
Hofmann, Stefan G., Asnaani, Anu, Vonk, Imke, Sawyer, Alice, and Fang, Angela. “The Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-analyses.” Cognitive Therapy and Research, 36(5): 427-440. Published July 31, 2012. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
Hague, Ben, Hall, Jo, and Kellett, Stephen. “Treatment for Compulsive Buying: A Systematic Review of the Quality, Effectiveness and Progression of the Outcome Evidence.” Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 5(3): 379-394. Published September 17, 2016. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
Black, Donald. “A Review of Compulsive Buying Disorder.” World Psychiatry, 6(1): 14-18. Published February 2007. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
Kelly, Thomas M., and Daley, Dennis C. “Integrated Treatment of Substance Use and Psychiatric Disorders.” Social Work in Public Health, 28(3-4): 388-406. Published June 3, 2013. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
Koran, LM, Chuong, HW, Bullock, KD, and Smith, SC. “Citalopram for Compulsive Shopping Disorder: An Open-Label Study Followed by Double-Blind Discontinuation.” The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 64(7): 793-798. Published July 1, 2003. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
McElroy, Susan L., Satlin, Andrew, Pope, Harrison G., Keck, Paul E., and Hudson, James I. “Treatment of Compulsive Shopping with Antidepressants: A Report of Three Cases.” Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, 3(3): 199-204. Published January 1991. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes.
We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.
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Signs, Symptoms & Treatment for a Shopaholic
Shopping addiction is a behavioral addiction in which a person shops compulsively to relieve distressing negative emotions anxiety, pain, and sadness.
People who suffer from shopping addiction tend to experience preoccupation with shopping, uncontrollable urges to shop and spend more time shopping than on other important activities and obligations.
Shopping addiction can be effectively treated using cognitive and behavioral psychotherapies that address negative thoughts and behaviors driving the addiction.
Shopping addiction affects more than one in 20 adults in the U.S. and is marked by the desire to shop and purchase items despite not needing those items or having the ability to afford such items.
Shopping addiction and drug addiction share many of the same traits and behaviors, except instead of being addicted to substances, individuals who suffer from shopping addiction are addicted to the feelings triggered by shopping, or to the act of shopping itself.
When left untreated, shopping addiction can interfere with your mental and emotional health and cause problems surrounding your finances, relationships, career, and education. Getting professional treatment for your shopping addiction can help you overcome the root causes of your addiction, and teach you how to shop and lead a healthier lifestyle without jeopardizing your livelihood.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Shopping Addiction?
People who suffer from shopping addiction may experience anxiety when they’re not shopping and may talk or think non-stop about the act of shopping and making purchases.
Many of these individuals lose interest in the items they buy as soon as they get home, and won’t even use them.
Financial hardship is a common sign of shopping addiction, as well as evidence of new, unused items around the home that seem to keep piling up.
Shopping addiction tends to be more common among certain personality types.
People who identify as extroverts may use shopping to boost or maintain their physical appearance and social appeal, and become addicted to buying new outfits for every occasion.
Those who tend to be moody and neurotic are also more prone to shopping addiction since these individuals make use shopping to self-medicate and relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and self-consciousness.
Knowing common signs and symptoms of shopping addiction can help you determine whether you or a loved one may need professional treatment.
If you or someone you love is addicted, call our helpline toll-free at 800-926-9037 to speak with a caring treatment specialist that can help you get sober. (Who Answers?)
Some of the signs of shopping addiction include:
- You may spend far more than initially planned every time you go shopping, or use money intended for other expenses to cover the costs of a shopping excursion.
- Compulsive purchases. You might compulsively buy things you don’t need, or buy multiple copies of the same item, such as ten pairs of shoes.
- Chronic shopping. Your unhealthy shopping habits have become chronic, such as you overspend every time you shop or shop at a highly frequent rate.
- Lying about the problem. You may stretch the truth about what you purchased and how much you spent, or lie about situations revolving around your shopping behaviors.
- Feelings of guilt. Many shopping addicts experience feelings of guilt, remorse, anger, and sadness following the euphoria they experience when shopping and making purchases. If your mood tends to worsen after you finish shopping or arrive back home, you may be suffering from shopping addiction.
- Broken relationships. Your relationships may start suffering due to the consequences of your shopping addiction. For instance, your loved ones may feel neglected as you start devoting more time shopping than to spending quality time with your family.
- Ignoring the consequences. Those who suffer from shopping addiction will often keep shopping despite knowing there may be negative consequences such as broken relationships, financial hardship, and worsened mental health. But at the same time, these individuals are often unable to quit shopping despite attempts to do so and require treatment that teaches them skills for overcoming and avoiding shopping triggers.
Additional Signs or Behaviors that Could be a Sign of Shopping Addiction
Here are other signs and behaviors that indicate you or a loved one may be suffering from shopping addiction.
- Spending money when you are angry
- Spending money when you are anxious
- Spending money when you are depressed
- Arguing about spending habits
- Feeling lost if you are not spending
- Purchasing items on credit when you don’t have the cash to cover them
- Feeling a rush when shopping
- Feeling guilty or embarrassed about shopping after the fact
- Obsessing about money
How Does Shopping Addiction Interact with Drug Addiction?
Just with any other addiction, shopping addiction can lead to difficulties with managing negative emotions anxiety and depression. Those with shopping addiction who are unable to cope with these emotions may start using drugs and alcohol to self-medicate their symptoms.
For instance, a person who comes home after a day-long shopping spree may start feeling guilty and remorseful about their spending and use drugs and alcohol to escape their negative feelings.
The presence of another addiction or mental health disorder in addition to shopping addiction is known as a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis and can be treated at the same time as a shopping addiction.
If you or someone you love is addicted, call our helpline toll-free at 800-926-9037 to speak with a caring treatment specialist that can help you get sober. (Who Answers?)
On the other hand, people in recovery from drug addiction may use shopping as a way to cope with negative emotions or withdrawal symptoms that linger as part of post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS.
Depression, anxiety, and mood disorders are common PAWS symptoms for those recovering from opioid and stimulant addiction.
These individuals may use shopping as a way to relieve symptoms, not knowing their behaviors could trigger another addiction.
How are Shopping Addiction and Substance Use Disorders Treated?
Researchers indicate that as many as 75% of compulsive shoppers will admit they have a problem, but don’t know how to get help. Shopping addiction can be effectively treated using counseling, pharmacotherapy, and cognitive and behavioral therapies.
- Behavioral therapy –This therapy helps you identify and improve negative behaviors surrounding shopping addiction. For example, if you turn to shopping every time you experience anxiety, you’ll learn how to practice healthier behaviors exercise and deep breathing that can naturally help reduce anxiety.
- Cognitive therapy –This therapy helps you identify and improve negative thinking patterns that may be driving your shopping addiction. For instance, if you measure your self-worth by the amount of new clothes and accessories you own, you’ll learn how to feel more confident about yourself without the need to buy new clothes.
- Financial counseling –This therapy teaches you how to shop more responsibly and how to budget your finances — both of which are useful skills to have when overcoming shopping addiction and leading a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
- Self-help books –Many self-help guides are available to help shoppers overcome compulsive shopping habits and find new ways to have fun without overspending.
- Support groups – Support groups allow you to bond with others recovering from compulsive shopping and addiction and are often available in your local community or addiction treatment center.
- Medications – Those who suffer from shopping addiction and a mental health disorder depression may be prescribed medications to treat and relieve symptoms. Medications may be prescribed on an ongoing basis to help you stave off mental health symptoms and experience a healthy, full recovery from shopping addiction
Compulsive Buying Disorder: When Shopping Addiction Becomes a Problem
Whether it’s the latest gadget, a chic new piece of clothing, or even food, we’ve all felt the urge to splurge now and again. This comes as little surprise because we are constantly bombarded with online, print, and media ads that reinforce shopping mentality. Indulging in occasional spending isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it done in moderation and doesn’t disrupt family finances.
If your urge to shop becomes uncontrollable and if you are constantly spending beyond your means on things that you don’t need, a shopping addiction can be just as damaging as gambling or alcoholism.
Fortunately, there are ways to break free from shopping addiction.
If you have tried to quit spending with little or no luck, you may need the help of friends, family, or a supportive treatment program to kick the compulsion to shop.
What Is Shopping Addiction?
“Compulsive buying disorder” is the proposed diagnosis for shopping addiction. It’s a worldwide problem, and approximately 5.8% of the U.S. population will experience some type of compulsive buying disorder during their lives.1
Many people who suffer from shopping addiction also experience a co-occurring mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression. Some people engage in addictive shopping to boost their self-esteem. While the term “shopaholic” is often used in jest, it is a serious condition as people who shop compulsively generally spend well beyond their means.
Shopping addiction is a process addiction. Process addictions are addictions to things other than physically addictive drugs or alcohol.
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The Cycle of Shopping Addiction
People who struggle with compulsive shopping may experience ups and downs in their addiction. The urge to shop is usually strongest during moments of depression, sadness, or anger. Shopping addiction has also been associated with holidays that reinforce compulsive shopping, i.e. holiday shopping in December.
People who struggle with a shopping problem initially feel a “high” or “rush” from the act of shopping. However, any positive feelings they get from gratifying their compulsion are fleeting.
Many people feel deep regret, shame, or embarrassment in the aftermath of a shopping spree, which ultimately leads to more feelings of distress and more shopping.
Some people contain their shopping problem to online shopping. Sprees on sites Amazon.com can also play into problem shopping patterns, and are often just as devastating as in-person shopping.
The ability to quietly and quickly buy more through online merchants can lead to shopping sprees in the middle of the night, during work breaks, or from the comfort of the living room sofa.
These sprees are often extremely financially devastating and can be hard to control.
Compulsive shopping often follows a distinct pattern:
- Anticipation. This includes ruminating on possible shopping trips or items
- Preparation for shopping. This may include making lists, compulsively looking online, researching items, or talking about shopping.
- Shopping. The act of shopping can take place in person or online. This includes adding items to online shopping carts or physically picking items up in the store.
- Spending. Spending is the final act when a financial transaction is made and the items are given to the shopper.1
Signs of Shopping Addiction
People who shop compulsively experience shopping differently from people who do not have this problem.
Here are some signs to watch out for:
- The act of shopping causes feelings of euphoria, or a “high.”
- The urge to buy is overwhelming, and must be gratified instantly.
- Items bought during shopping sprees are often unnecessary.
- Shopaholics often go shopping with the intention to buy only a few items and end up buying much more than they intended.
- Purchased items may be hidden from family and friends guilt.
- Shopaholics are often in debt, have maxed out credit cards and are in generally bad financial straits due to spending beyond their means.
If any of these signs apply to you, then you might have a shopping addiction. Acknowledging the problem is the first step toward resolving it. However, breaking free of shopping addiction may require the help of others.
Your compulsion to shop may be a way you cope with issues such emotional problems or may even stem from mental health issues. Help from a supportive team is key. Addictions and compulsions often mask other problems. Qualified help may be necessary to resolve other issues that are clustered with the problem shopping. A full recovery will be difficult without treatment and support.
Problems Associated with Compulsive Shopping
People with shopping addiction often spend beyond their means. Although it may appear less harmful than other forms of addiction, such as drug or alcohol abuse, shopping addiction can and does create serious problems. Financial problems are the most obvious problems associated with compulsive shopping.
Without anything to stop the issue, people with this issue often spend until they absolutely can no longer buy new things.
This may mean they have run money, maxed out their credit cards, and are unable to borrow funds to continue to feed the addiction.
Shopping addiction may cause financial and even legal problems if those who suffer are unable to fulfill their other financial obligations because of their addiction.
People with compulsive shopping disorder may resort to borrowing money from family and friends in order to fuel their addiction. Relationships with loved ones may grow strained over time because people with shopping addiction have a tendency to continually borrow even if they lack the capacity to pay back their debt.
The shame and desire to hide spending often strains marriages and relationships. This can lead to strained or broken relationships because even patient and loving partners eventually become unable to cope with the consequences of the addiction.
In some cases, compulsive shopping impacts the person’s credit score, which may prevent him or her from buying a home or a reliable vehicle. In some cases, low credit scores may impact the ability to be hired for a job. Severe cases of shopping addiction may also lower a person’s ability to work, and online shopping during work hours may lead to job termination.
Left unresolved, compulsive shopping can become just as problematic and self-destructive as almost any other form of addiction.
How to Recover from Shopping Addiction
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to manage your shopping addiction.
- Destroy all credit cards and delete all digitally-stored credit card numbers. Instead, pay for needed items in cash or debit card. For big-ticket items, you can elect to pay by hand-written check.
- Tell your loved ones about your problem and ask them to help you in your recovery.
- Write a shopping list AND stick to it.
- Avoid things online stores or TV shopping channels. Ask a loved one to block these sites and channels on your computer, phone, and television, and then secure the password to unlock these items.
- Whenever you feel the urge to shop, acknowledge it, and then do something constructive such as exercise, or take up a hobby that does not require you to spend.
- Consider ways to make it more difficult for you to spend money impulsively, such as making your money harder to access.
- Most importantly, seek treatment. Shopping addiction is a serious and complex problem. Once your brain has become accustomed to the high and instant gratification of compulsive shopping, you will need support to make lasting change. Support groups are waiting to help, and licensed mental health counselors can help make change easier with coaching and evidence-based plans.
True shopping addiction requires treatment if you want to make a full recovery.
You will also need the help of friends and family to prevent yourself from sliding back into compulsive shopping after treatment or a counseling program.
Counseling and rehab can help you uncover and treat the real causes behind your shopping and problem spending. For example, if you generally shop as a means of dealing with stress, then you will want to treat the underlying emotional causes and build new skills to replace the shopping habit.
You may want to consider temporarily placing your finances under the control of a loved one so that person can help regulate your spending. Recognizing you have a problem shows more inner strength and also makes it easier to heal.
Compulsive shopping is about much more than a “bad habit”. Shopping addiction is a legitimate process addiction and it can be very devastating to relationships, finances, and well-being.
You may want to begin by making it more difficult to spend, but challenging your own spending is only the beginning.
Supportive groups, counseling, and the help and input from an experienced financial advisor are all important steps to get you back on track.
Intervention for Shopping Addiction
An intervention as a carefully planned process that involves the family, friends, and sometimes even colleagues of an addicted person. Although intervention styles may vary, they generally involve gathering loved ones and friends to confront the person who suffers from addiction, while getting them to accept treatment for their condition.
Successful interventions include offering a plan of treatment, along with its phases, objectives, and parameters. A follow-up treatment plan (that begins after treatment) is also necessary to ensure that the addicted person has a greater chance of recovery. Recovery from a shopping addiction requires ongoing support and encouragement from all family members.
Treatment for Shopping Addiction
other forms of addiction, compulsive shopping disorder is a disease. Further, people with shopping addiction may suffer from mental health concerns or other forms of addiction, such as alcohol use or compulsive gambling.
Uncovering the root of the problem will help lower the risk that it will return later in life. Counseling and a supportive group of people who have been there themselves and truly understand can make all the difference in the world.
1 Black, D. A Review of Compulsive Buying Disorder. World Psychiatry 6.1. 2007.
Compulsive Spending / Shopping
Compulsive spending has many names: shopping addiction, oniomania, impulsive buying, shopaholism, and more. Although compulsive spending is not an official diagnosis, it resembles other addictions. People with oniomania often invest excessive time and resources to shop. They may not know what need they are trying to fill, but the compulsion to buy is still strong.
A 2004 survey estimates 5.8% of adults in the United States have a shopping addiction. Some studies show higher rates among online shoppers, perhaps due to the internet’s convenience and anonymity. The condition can cause financial concerns, relationship conflict, and personal distress. Oniomania can be as difficult to stop as any other compulsion or addiction.
However, compulsive spending is treatable. Therapy can help a person move past addiction and take back control over their life.
Signs You Are a Shopaholic
Where does one draw the line between a shopping hobby and an addiction? Researchers at Bergen University have developed a tool to answer this question. The Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale adapts criteria from other addictions.
If someone shows 4 the 7 behaviors on the scale, they ly have a shopping addiction:
- Obsessing about shopping all the time
- Shopping to improve one's mood
- Buying more items to feel the same satisfaction as before
- Buying so much one cannot meet daily responsibilities such as school
- Buying so much it has affected one's well-being
- Being unable to cut back on shopping, even if one wishes to do so
- Feeling bad if one cannot shop
Who Is at Risk for Compulsive Spending?
Research suggests most people with shopping addiction are young and female. The condition usually starts in late adolescence or early adulthood. The prevalence seems to decrease with age.
One 2016 study in Brazil analyzed how male and female compulsive spenders differ. Male participants were more ly to be non-heterosexual. They also had higher rates of co-occuring diagnoses such as intermittent explosive behavior.
Personality may also impact compulsive spending. According to a 2015 study, extroversion and neuroticism are linked to shopping addiction. The study’s authors believe extroverts may use shopping to enhance social status. Meanwhile, neurotic individuals might shop to reduce negative emotions. People who are conscientious or agreeable are less ly to develop shopping addiction.
What Causes Shopping Addiction?
Many cultures today condone and even encourage materialism. Shopping for immediate personal gratification has been glorified as “retail therapy.” Overspending is easy to do in a world that provides broad access to credit. Although compulsive spending may have its roots in these cultural influences, the behavior is typically linked to more complex issues.
Some people believe buying the right object is the key to attaining happiness. This object could be a car, an item of clothing, or even virtual goods. Some people feel compelled to keep spending, even when they experience negative consequences
People’s goals can vary as much as their purchases. According to Shopaholics Anonymous, people with a shopping addiction may fall into one or more of these categories:
- Compulsive shoppers: These people often use shopping an emotion-regulation strategy. They may shop to reduce negative feelings or to enhance and prolong positive ones. Compulsive shoppers might feel euphoria during the search for and purchase of an item. Yet they often feel guilt afterwards, which leads to anxiety, which leads to more shopping.
- Collector shoppers: People in this category often wish to complete a set of objects, such as trading cards or golf clubs. They may wish to have variations of an object, such as different colors of the same purse.
- Image shoppers: These individuals often buy expensive items. They may use purchases to boost their self-esteem and social status.
- Codependent shoppers: These people shop to gain greater social acceptance. They may believe the right item will earn approval and affection from others.
- Bargain shoppers: These people often buy items they don’t need. Their goal is to get a good deal.
- Trophy shoppers: These individuals resemble bargain shoppers because they enjoy “hunting” for the right object. However, they are focused on getting the perfect item rather than a good deal.
Conditions Related to Compulsive Shopping
Compulsive shopping has been linked to many other psychological conditions. Certain diagnoses may prompt compulsive spending. Shopping addiction may in turn affect one’s mental health. It can be difficult to pinpoint where one issue begins and the other ends.
People with shopping addiction often prioritize short-term gratification over long-term consequences. Because of this tendency, some researchers classify shopping addiction as an impulse control problem.
Other experts claim shopping addiction is compulsive behavior. Compulsive hoarding is closely linked to compulsive spending in several ways. Both conditions typically involve:
- An overwhelming desire to own certain items, even when those objects aren’t needed.
- A fear of losing (or missing the chance to buy) said item.
- Unusual meaning and value placed on inanimate objects.
Lastly, a 2014 study showed shopping addiction is highly comorbid with depression. Other research suggests shopping addiction helps individuals boost their serotonin and dopamine levels. In these cases, the impulse to buy may stem from neurological and emotional needs. Buying may provide temporary relief, but most people feel remorse after the sale.
Therapy can treat compulsive spending and any related conditions. If you or a loved one struggles with a shopping addiction, you can find a therapist here.
- Addicted to shopping? (2017, October 11). University of Bergen News. Retrieved from http://www.uib.no/en/news/91783/addicted-shopping
- Andreassen, C. S., Griffiths, M. D., Pallesen, S., Bilder, R. M., Torsheime, T., & Aboujaoude, E. (2015, September 17). The Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale: Reliability and validity of a brief screening test. Frontiers in Psychology. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01374
- Black, Donald. (2007, February). A review of compulsive buying disorder. World Psychiatry, 6(1). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1805733
- Filomensky, T.Z., de Mattos, C. N., Kim, H. S., Requiao, M. G., Marasaldi, R. F., Hodgins, D. C., & Tavares, H. (2016, December 1). Gender differences in compulsive buying disorder: Assessment of demographic and psychiatric co-morbidities. PLoS ONE, 11(12). Retrieved from http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0167365#sec019
- Koran, L. M., Faber, R. J., Aboujaoude, E., Large, M. D., & Serpe, R. T. (2006). Estimated prevalence of compulsive buying behavior in the United States. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 163(10), 1806-12. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/220500938?accountid=1229
- Kyrios, M., Frost, R. O., & Steketee, G. (2004). Cognitions in compulsive buying and acquisition. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 28(2), 241-258. doi:10.1023/B:COTR.0000021543.62799.32
- What is compulsive shopping? (n.d.) The Shulman Center. Retrieved from http://www.shopaholicsanonymous.org