It’s no secret that addiction of any kind can have a severe impact on mental health. But what about habits that don’t involve substances? The Shopaholics Anonymous peer support group is a real thing, and it points to the fact that compulsive purchasing can be just as damaging as any other addiction. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore the effects of shopping addiction on mental health and how it can spiral out of control if left untreated. If you or someone you know is struggling with this disorder, this post is for you.

What Is Shopping Addiction?

Shopping addiction is a mental health disorder characterized by an individual’s habitual, impulsive, and often uncontrollable buying behavior. While shopping can be a pleasant and fulfilling experience for most, people with shopping addiction struggle to control their buying habits. Buying addicts are likely to have a strong urge to purchase items impulsively, even if they can’t afford them or do not really need them. 

Signs of shopping addiction include:

  • Constantly making purchases online or in person despite already having too much of the same item
  • Frequently maxing out credit cards
  • Spending extended periods of time in stores (both online and offline)
  • Creating elaborate schemes to hide purchases from loved ones
  • Feeling guilty or embarrassed about their purchasing behavior. 

If left unaddressed, compulsive uncontrolled purchasing has the potential to severely disrupt an individual’s life by causing financial hardship and damaging relationships.

How Does Shopaholism Develop?

Shopaholism, as we have already explained, is a condition in which an individual becomes psychologically dependent on shopping, repeatedly engaging in the activity of buying new items to an often excessive degree. However, it is essential to note that shopaholism is not simply about the act of purchasing things: it is about the thrill associated with the process of obtaining an item. 

While some people may enjoy retail therapy as a healthy outlet, shopaholics have a hard time controlling their need to shop. Over time, this behavior can lead to severe consequences, including financial hardship and psychological distress. Factors contributing to the development of shopaholism include, among others, the following:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Social peer pressure
  • Family influences
  • Compulsive behavior disorders
  • Depressive conditions. 

It can be a difficult cycle to break, and one should seek help if they find themselves unable to control their urge to buy.

Mental Health Effects of Compulsive Purchasing

Compulsive purchasing can have a detrimental effect on mental health. For example, studies conducted by researchers have shown that individuals engaging in compulsive buying behaviors are three times more likely to suffer from depression, four times more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders, and twice as likely to suffer from bipolar disorder. 

Spending sprees caused by compulsive buying often lead to financial woes, which can cause added stress, shame, and guilt. In addition, intense feelings of inadequacy or worthlessness may accompany the behavior as well. As such, it is important for anyone potentially struggling with compulsive buying behaviors to consult with a mental health professional or medical doctor in order to address symptoms and find the right treatment plan that works best for them.

The Physical Effects of Shopping Addiction

Shopping addiction can have severe physical consequences, such as chronic fatigue due to a lack of sleep in the pursuit of shopping and financial troubles. Furthermore, those addicted to shopping often experience anxiety and depression that may lead one to exhibit symptoms like these:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Aches
  • Pains
  • A general sense of unease. 

Research has also demonstrated an increased risk of substance abuse in shopaholics as a means of self-medicating internal turmoil. Such individuals tend to ignore hunger and other basic needs in order to focus on their addiction. 

For these reasons, it is crucial for those struggling with compulsive shopping or dealing with loved ones who are addicted not to ignore any physical symptoms associated with the disorder. However, with proper treatment, those suffering from addictive behavior can find relief from their condition.

How Can Shopaholism Be Treated? Different Treatment Approaches

Shopaholism can be a debilitating condition, leading to financial instability and mental health strain. Fortunately, there are treatment approaches available for those affected by this compulsive behavior. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a popular form of treatment for shopaholism, as it focuses on identifying underlying thoughts and feelings that may have led a person to develop their shopping compulsion. This helps them work towards reframing those thoughts in more healthy ways, helping to reduce the urge to shop excessively. 

Other treatments used to help individuals with shopaholism include:

  • Medication, such as antidepressants or mood stabilizers
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
  • Group Therapy
  • Lifestyle Changes designed to support personal coping skills. 

It is important that individuals seeking treatment find a therapist who specializes in working with shoppers, so they can get the most appropriate care for their needs.

How Can You Help Your Shopping Addicted Relative or Friend?

If a loved one is struggling with shopaholism, it can be difficult to know how to help. It is important that you do not judge them or berate them for their behavior and instead provide support in a non-judgmental manner. This will look different for each individual: some may find comfort in the offer of assistance paying off debts or budgeting, while others may just need someone to talk to and confide in. 

Additionally, it can be helpful to research local resources, such as rehabilitation centers and self-help programs, that could aid your relative or friend in overcoming their problem. Ultimately, understanding and compassion are fundamental when trying to help an individual overcome shopaholism and hopefully bring peace back into their life.


In conclusion, compulsive purchasing, also known as shopaholism, is a serious mental health issue that can have a detrimental effect on individuals. Though shopaholism may not be widely discussed, it deserves attention and can lead to dangerous levels of spending with potentially significant emotional, psychological, and physical consequences. Therefore, it is crucial to take seriously any signs of excessive expenditures or preoccupation with buying items that could indicate compulsive purchasing behavior. 

Treatment of shopaholism should focus on helping individuals more effectively address underlying emotional issues while also providing resources and support to stop compulsive purchase behaviors. Different treatment approaches have been shown to help and include psychotherapy, psychoeducational sessions, pharmacological treatments, and cognitive behavioral therapy. 

Overall, it is essential to seek professional help if you or a loved one may be struggling with shopping addiction since early intervention can significantly decrease the effects of this disorder upon one’s life.