Shopping Addiction

By: Zoe Graham


=the compulsion to spend money, regardless of need or financial means

  • could be addicted to a certain product from clothes to real estate

Personally I was unaware that shopping addiction was a real thing. Last year I would go to the mall every weekend or every other weekend and spend up to $100-$300 every trip and eventually my parents forced me to calm down and save money. I had an addiction to clothing shopping at the mall and eventually it slowly died down, but is not completely gone.

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Emil Kraepelin originally described oniomania, an obsessive urge to buy things, over a century ago, and with the assistance of Eugen Bleuler both included the syndrome in highly influential psychiatric textbooks. Compulsive shopping has been, and still is, considered a barely recognizable 'mental illness'.

Biology Says:

According to the British Journal of Addiction, non-chemical addictions are not much different than chemical addictions, such as drugs or alcohol.

  • buying and spending more money than intended
  • not being able to avoid or cut down shopping trips
  • taking the time to figure out how to get more money to spend on shopping trips
  • avoiding payment of credit cards in order to spend cash on shopping
  • continuously risking family life and relationships
  • letting spending effect health

Some people develop shopping addictions because basically they become addicted to how their brain feels when while shopping. This is because as they shop, the brain releases endorphins and dopamine and with time, the feeling becomes addictive.

"Shopping Addiction Symptoms, Causes and Effects." Signs and Symptoms of Shopping Addictions – Causes and Effects. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2015.

"What You Need to Know About Shopping Addiction." What You Need to Know About Shopping Addiction. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2015.


Some people have trouble addressing shopping addiction as "legitimate" but there are treatment options.

  • therapies for shopaholics exist: usually begins with a period of behavior modification
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: popular for its noninvasive and non drug based approach
  • encouraging the patients to stop thinking they are then only ones
  • attendant reduction in feelings of guilt and shame can greatly ease the way forward
  • more intense: Residential Inpatient Shopping Addiction treatment centers (physical isolation of the patient and an effort to monitor overall health
  • Luxury Shopping Addiction Facilities
  • Executive Shopping Addiction Programs
  • Outpatient Shopping Addiction Rehab and Treatment Programs

Statistics: November 13, 2013

Red Flag Stats:

  • 36.7% feeling guilt or shame after shopping
  • 20.5% hiding purchases from family
  • 4.7% have actually been labeled "shopaholics"

According to 2013 survey:

  • 31.7% purchase just because of "sale"
  • 18.1% purchased things that weren't needed or planned
  • 11% shop to improve mood
  • 47.4% experience "rush" from shopping
  • 24.4% have items still in shopping bags or with tags, unused
  • 18.5% have frequent arguments over money
  • 19.1% don't have enough money

(creditdonkey survey of 1,063 Americans)

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Impact of Addiction:

Similar to mentioned before...

  • spending more money than can be afforded
  • shopping because of feelings=dangerous (for bank account and health)
  • harming relationships due to spending too much
  • guilt is a huge problem, a chain of guilt=not good

Fun Fact:

Chronic spenders and the thrifty have different brain chemistry. A 2007 study discusses the moment just before making a purchasing decision. The brains of compulsive shoppers activate in different ways than the general public. For the general public, desirable products light up in the nucleus accumbens in the brain (a pleasure center) and the prices light up the insula (a fear-or anticipation center), but shopaholics go home with no money left.