Are You A Shopaholic and Don’t Know It?

3 min readApr 16, 2024
I Used to be a Shopaholic

What Is a Shopping Addiction? Shopping addiction, also called Shopaholic, is a behavioral addiction that involves compulsive buying as a way to feel good and avoid negative feelings, such as anxiety and depression. As with other behavioral addictions, shopping addiction can become a preoccupation that leads to problems in other areas of your life.
Oniomania (compulsive shopping, or more commonly called shopping addiction) is perhaps the most socially acceptable addiction. Think about it: You’re surrounded by ads telling you that buying will make you happy.

You are also encouraged by politicians to spend as a way to boost the country’s economy. And, for some of you, there is a fascination with wanting what everyone else seems to have. Consumerism, whether intentional or unintentional (or some combination), has become a measure of social value.

Although widespread consumerism has recently increased, shopping addiction is not a new disorder. This disease has been known since the early 19th century and was mentioned as a mental disorder at the beginning of the 20th century.

Emotional spending is calming — not just for me, but probably for you and for many others. Even though I’m a recovering shopaholic, I’m still a shopping addict. I was always one step away from compulsive spending.

Causes of Shopping Addiction or Shopaholic
The exact causes of shopping addiction are not entirely clear, but several factors may play a role.

Personality Characteristics
This difficulty in controlling the desire to shop arises from the personality patterns that shopaholics have, and is what differentiates them from most other people. Often having low self-esteem, they are easily influenced, and are often kind, sympathetic, and polite to others, although they are often lonely and isolated. Shopping provides them with a way to seek contact with other people. Some people develop a shopping addiction to try to increase their self-esteem, although this tends to not be very effective.

Other Mental Health Conditions
Typically beginning in late adolescence and early adulthood, shopping addiction often occurs in conjunction with other disorders, including mood and anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, eating disorders, other impulse control disorders, and personality disorders.

Advertising Exposure
People with a shopping addiction will be more susceptible to the marketing and advertising messages that surround us every day. Although advertising, in general, is designed to exaggerate the positive outcomes of purchases and suggest that they will lead to an escape from life’s problems, certain marketing tricks are designed to trigger impulse purchases and specifically target the impulsive nature of people addicted to shopping.

People with shopping addictions tend to be more materialistic than other shoppers and try to support themselves by seeking status through material objects and seeking the approval of others. They engage in fantasies more frequently than other people, and — like other addicted people — have difficulty fighting their impulses.

For some people, money is not an emotional problem. They are capable of making logical choices and are not tempted to do otherwise. They got lucky. However, for most of us, things don’t work out that way. If you’re in the majority, find a way to make a fool out of yourself. You can train yourself to use the 30-day rule to control your shopping addiction, for example: When you see something you want, don’t buy it immediately; instead, jot them down on your calendar for the next 30 days. If you still want it in a month, consider purchasing it. I realized that I could stop myself from buying a lot of stuff just by putting it on my Amazon wish list. I came back later and wondered why I had been tempted!

There’s no harm in asking for help if you’re struggling with your shopping addiction. Talk to a close friend or family member, and ask for support in breaking the compulsive shopping cycle. You may even want to seek professional assistance. But remember: If you ask for help, don’t get angry when your advisor calls you out on a misstep. Listen to what they say.

Each of these techniques can help curb your shopping addiction to a certain degree. Different techniques will interest different people.
There is one other strategy that I have found to be very effective for myself: When I am tempted to buy something, I force myself to pause and ask myself some serious questions.

Signs that Prove You are a Shopaholic