Shopping Addiction

Shopping Addicted Woman

Defining Shopping Addiction

Shopping addiction (or oniomania) is a compulsive need to shop and the desire to purchase items for the rush. Compulsive shopping is different from the regular shopping spree in that it is usually unnecessary, excessive, and out of control. Patients do not realize the extent of spending on shopping and often end up getting themselves into serious financial and monetary trouble because of their urge to spend and shop for things they may never use.

Oniomania, like other non-substance addictions, is a result of one’s inability to cope with their impulses. Over a period of time, these impulses and urges become so overpowering that patients tend to experience restlessness and irritability if they do not shop. Some other non-substance addictions are Internet Addiction, Video Game Addiction, Work Addiction, Gambling Addiction etc.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Unable to restrict yourself despite having a budget: Overspending beyond the budget, in spite of being aware of the negative consequences of doing so
  • Compulsive behavior: Is it tough for you to refrain from purchasing that handbag or that leather belt you just set your eyes on? If you have to buy the thing you like, chances are that you face a compulsive need to buy
  • Repetitive behavior: Indulging in excessive shopping has become a matter of habit
  • Lying and deceit: Hiding your problem is one of the biggest pointers towards being addicted
  • Distress and depression: If you are unable to refrain yourself from shopping in spite of knowing the negative consequences, you can get depressed and distressed

Causes and Risk Factors

Oniomania occurs when people experience an unhealthy cycle of addiction :a euphoric rush after purchase followed by depression after the rush wears off, and feeling the need to go shopping again to fill the void caused by the depression causing the need to go shopping again. Some people take pleasure in showing off their “stuff” to their peers while others find an escape route in shopping. Some people get pleasure out of shopping for the sheer joy of swiping their credit card and showing off their “well-being” and “carefree” attitude towards life.

The more the dopamine secreted in the brain, the higher the pleasure attained from indulging in a particular activity. What’s more, the brain tends to remember all the activities leading to dopamine secretion. If people experience a shopping addiction, the brain would associate the pleasurable feelings with purchasing items and will seek to repeat the action.

Social factors and cultural influences also play a pivotal role in turning someone into shopping addict. Being deprived of things during childhood, amassing a lot of wealth without really working for it, the inability to handle personal relationships and the need to “prove” oneself in one’s social circle can all influence Oniomania.

Some of the risk factors that patients of shopping addiction are exposed to include:

  • Criminal ideation in order to get money for shopping
  • Unstable finances and personal relationships
  • Distress and depression after euphoria wears off
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Withdrawal symptoms


Treatment for shopping addiction is best done in a rehabilitation facility with therapists who specialize in treating Oniomania. It is important to contact the rehabilitation facility before checking in to make sure that they have the program needed.

Like all forms of addiction, shopping addiction can best be treated with targeted psychotherapy on the patients. Patients may need to undergo CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) in order to bring about a change in the impulsive behavior. Be sure to consult a therapist to discuss treatment options for Oniomania.


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