22nd May, 2024

Shopping Addiction

Overview, Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

Shopping addiction, otherwise known as compulsive buying disorder, is a real issue that many individuals face. While shopping as a fun hobby or for things one needs can be enjoyable and even necessary, many people deal with a need to shop that becomes compulsive and, eventually, an addiction just like with alcohol or drug abuse. It can lead to problematic results like financial devastation and possible mood disorders.

While shopping addiction is often not thought of as a legitimate disorder, there are signs and symptoms of the issue as well as formal treatment facilities where an individual can receive the kind of treatment they need in order to fight their shopping addiction. This can become necessary for someone whose shopping gets out of control.


shopping addict

An addiction to shopping is often related to other issues in a person’s life, and treatment can help you resolve them.

According to a study from the NCBI, “Compulsive buying disorder (CBD) was first described clinically in the early 20th century by Bleuler and Kraepelin, both of whom included CBD in their textbooks.” Bleuler described shopping addiction as “the buying maniacs (oniomaniacs) in whom even buying is compulsive and leads to senseless contraction of debts.” The issues caused by shopping addiction are not all financial in nature, but these aspects of life are often the ones most obviously and intensely hit by an addiction of this nature.

Further studies state “the point prevalence of compulsive buying disorder to be 5.8% of respondents, based on results from a random telephone survey of 2,513 adults conducted in the US.” While there is a possibility that this many individuals suffer from shopping addiction, or compulsive buying disorder, there are specified criteria one must fit into in order to be considered a compulsive shopper.

The occasional shopping binge can happen to anyone, but a shopping addict is constantly overspending, shopping, and buying as many things as possible. There are many reasons why this issue occurs, but treatment is usually necessary for those who exhibit strong signs of shopping addiction.

Shopping Addiction Signs

There are many signs that can help point to shopping addiction if you are concerned someone you know might have compulsive buying disorder. While a splurge here and there hardly reaches the same levels as addiction, compulsive buying disorder can sneak up on an individual who has it, or they may not want to think about whether or not they have it. This is why knowing the signs is important; you may notice it before the person with the problem does.

The common signs of shopping addiction or compulsive buying disorder are:

  • An inability to regulate one’s spending to the point where they constantly overdraft, spend more money than they mean to, buy more things than they mean to, or shop for no reason
  • A tendency to buy things that they do not want or need in order to just be shopping
  • A tendency toward secretive behavior in order to hide their purchases from friends, family, and loved ones who have asked them to stop or cut down on their spending
  • An inability to regulate time or manage time well when shopping
    • URMC states that people who have a shopping disorder “shop for longer periods than [they] intended” and will possibly, as a result, miss meetings, work, school, or other important events
  • Constantly talking about shopping or finding ways to go shopping
    • Compulsive gamblers show the same behavior toward gambling where they will use anything (a celebration, a disappointment, etc.) to make an excuse that will allow them to gamble. Compulsive shoppers will always want to shop whether they are very happy or very upset.
  • Promising to stop shopping so much or spending so much money and not following through
    • When you ask someone with a shopping addiction to stop spending money, they may say that they will, but they will often not be able to do so. Because of the nature of it being an addiction, compulsive shopping is difficult to stop without treatment and a person may make promises that they fully intend to keep and then be unable to keep them.
  • Having many items of clothing or other possessions that have never been used and still have the price tags on them
  • Severe financial problems as result of compulsive shopping
    • A person may max out their credit, spend their paycheck immediately, or do any number of things to cause the financial issues that occur in most instances of shopping addiction.

Shopping addicts will not be able to stop on their own and will need your help as well as professional treatment in order to learn better coping skills and find ways to fight their compulsive need to shop.

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Shopping Addiction Symptoms

Like with other behavioral addictions, it can be difficult for someone else to gauge whether or not a person has a shopping addiction. In many cases, a person has to look inside themselves and ask whether or not their shopping has gotten out of hand. This can occur by considering the symptoms of shopping addiction treatment, which are signs only the shoppers themselves can see.

The common symptoms of shopping addiction or compulsive buying disorder are

  • Using shopping as a coping method for stress, anger, sadness, or general unhappy feelings in your life
  • In some cases, shopping addicts experience a rush when they purchase something, similar to drug abuse or other euphoria-causing behaviors. If you feel intense pleasure at the thought of buying something, even if it is something you don’t need or want, you may be addicted to shopping.
    • Other times, a person may be spending money to ignore other problems in their life. URMC states, “Many compulsive buyers shop not necessarily for things they want or need, but to fulfill much deeper emotional needs.”
  • Constantly thinking about the idea of shopping or spending money
  • Being unhappy, angry, or experiencing something akin to withdrawal symptoms when you are unable to shop
    • The NCBI also states that shopping addicts often experience “a sense of letdown, or disappointment with oneself” after the high of buying something wears off
  • Feeling embarrassed about the amount that you shop
  • Going to great lengths to hide debts caused by frequent spending
    • Indiana University states that compulsive shoppers “sometimes attempt to hide their problem by taking on an extra job to pay for bills.” They may also continue taking out credit cards or do other reckless things.
  • Dealing with other disorders
    • Frequently, individuals with compulsive shopping disorders also suffer from another disorder like depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, “a problem with drugs or alcohol,” or another mental disorder that is affecting their lives.
  • Feeling like you are not in control of your shopping habits

According to Indiana University, “If you feel out of control, you probably are.” This is how looking inside yourself for the symptoms of shopping addiction is extremely important and can help lead you to a better situation financially, mentally, and emotionally.

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By calling the helpline you agree to the terms of use. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a caller chooses. There is no obligation to enter treatment.

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