Shopping addiction is a little-known addiction type. Many people don’t believe it’s a real addiction because, as a society, we always joke around, saying people have a shopping problem.
Struggling with a shopping addiction is a serious matter that many people go to therapy for because, like other addictions, it can become negatively impactful on their daily lives, relationships, and mental health. While some will say at least shopping won’t kill them, it’s still like a drug to those struggling with this addiction.
Learning more about what shopping addiction entails can help you better understand if you or a loved one might be struggling with this and how you can eventually seek the help needed to control shopping impulses.
Is Shopping Addictive?
Yes, having an addiction to shopping is a very real thing that people struggle with worldwide. It’s often referred to as oniomania or compulsive buying disorder, and professionals classify it as a behavioral addiction.
Like other behavioral addictions, a shopping addiction becomes a compulsive and uncontrollable behavior in someone’s life. Shopping addictions are similar to video game and gambling addictions in this way.
People who struggle with a shopping addiction will often feel a strong sense of relief or weight off their shoulders while shopping, no matter what it’s for.
For example, many shopping addicts will buy products they’ll never use, like cat litter, when they don’t have a cat, solely for the emotional relief shopping brings them.
It’s important to note that just because someone enjoys shopping doesn’t mean they have a shopping addiction. Shopping addiction is when you cannot physically control your impulses to spend money, not just when you buy a lot of things regularly.
What Symptoms Does Shopping Cause?
Shopping addiction isn’t something to take lightly. If you notice you might be exhibiting some of the symptoms below or a loved one is, it could be a sign that shopping is becoming more than just shopping to them.
Remember, everyone is different, so symptoms might look different for you than for someone else.
1. Feeling Euphoric While Shopping
A primary symptom of someone with a shopping problem is a feeling of euphoria while shopping and even while you’re putting the bags in the car or opening up an online order.
You can think of it like a drug addict getting their first hit and feeling high. Shopping addicts might feel something similar, only their drug of choice is buying things.
2. Shopping Despite Not Having Money
Shopping addicts aren’t concerned with the lack of money they might have, thanks to their shopping problems. They often physically can’t control their shopping impulses, so they might spend more money than their means allows or continuously open new credit cards to be able to purchase items.
3. Remorse After a Shopping Trip
Right after that euphoria they often experience on a shopping trip fades, many shopping addicts are hit with a strong sense of remorse or guilt. They often know they shouldn’t have bought what they did or how much, but they can’t help it, so they feel remorseful but generally won’t return the items.
Much like other addicts, shopping addicts can experience super high highs and low lows. In this care, the low lows are remorse and guilt after going on a shopping trip.
4. Neglecting Responsibilities
A prominent symptom of someone having a shopping problem is neglecting responsibilities. For example, calling out of work to go to the mall, not attending school, not picking up your children at the time you’re supposed to because you’re shopping, etc.
Neglecting responsibilities can look a little different for everyone, so keeping that in mind and looking at yourself or the person you care about responsibilities can help you see if they’re actually neglecting them because of a shopping problem.
5. Withdrawal Symptoms
Lastly, someone struggling with a shopping problem can experience withdrawal symptoms.
While these won’t necessarily be highly physical in nature like those struggling with substance addiction, shopping addicts may show increasingly irritable behavior if they haven’t been shopping in a while or even become highly anxious thinking about when they can go shopping next.
3 Signs a Person Might Have a Shopping Problem: Things To Watch For
We all have to shop regularly for things like groceries and necessities, so when does shopping start indicating that someone might have a problem?
Here are three critical signs to watch for if you think you or someone you love is struggling with a shopping addiction.
1. They’re Shopping To Cope With Life
Many addictions stem from a stress relief aspect that they believe is helping them cope with things going on in their lives. You should watch for impulse shopping after a stressful day at work or in general.
People with a shopping addiction will use anything going on in their lives as an excuse to go on a shopping trip. They might use it to cope with being overwhelmed, sad, anxious, etc.
2. Inability To Control Shopping Urges
We all have been standing in line surrounded by products just waiting for us to grab them, but not everyone has strong shopping urges. Those struggling with a shopping addiction will physically be unable to control their shopping urges.
They tend to buy clothing they don’t need, products that they’ll never use, and other random things solely for the thrill of shopping.
3. Preoccupation With Shopping
Being overly preoccupied with shopping is another sign that someone might have a shopping problem or addiction. When planning their day around the next time they can go into a store or check out something online, it can drastically affect their daily lives.
At What Point Is Shopping a Problem?
Everyone has to shop for various reasons, but there comes a point where shopping is more of a problem.
You can tell someone or your shopping is becoming a problem when you start seeing negative consequences from shopping, which starts affecting one’s life. Some signs that shopping is becoming or is a problem are:
- Financial difficulties include credit card debt, not affording bills, etc.
- Their daily function impaired, like work, social activities, and relationships, because of shopping impulses
- Shopping is putting strains on your relationships
- You start exhibiting feelings of shame and guilt after unnecessary shopping
- Someone is neglecting caring for themselves by prioritizing shopping
- Shopping to deal with stress or other negative emotions
How Do You Deal With Someone Who Has a Shopping Problem?
Taking the right steps to help someone you know and love with a shopping problem can sometimes feel challenging and downright impossible. It can be even more difficult when you’re worried about yourself and unsure how to deal with a potential shopping addiction. Here are some steps you’ll want to take:
- Express that you’re concerned and that you care
- Open up a line of communication
- Educate yourself about shopping addiction
- Encourage them (or yourself) to seek professional care
- Offer ways to help manage their shopping impulses
- Set boundaries if necessary
- Encourage healthy coping mechanisms like exercise, therapy, or other hobbies
- Try not to do anything that could enable the behavior
- Practice patience
Frequently Asked Questions
Not everyone fully understands shopping addiction because it does not come to mind when you hear the word addiction. Take a look at what others are asking regarding shopping addiction.
Is shopping an OCD addiction?
No, shopping isn’t an OCD addiction. While they have similarities, shopping addiction is considered a behavioral addiction, while OCD is more of an anxiety disorder based on intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviors.
How common is shopping addiction?
Shopping addiction is a lesser-known addiction, so while it’s hard to know exactly how many people it affects, we can estimate it affects a small portion of the population. It’s essential to remember shopping addiction can look different for everyone, so it’s even more challenging to know.
Additional Addictions To Watch For
Shopping addiction is a lesser-known addiction, so it can be challenging to spot someone who is suffering from it. That being said, other addictions have similar attributes that you might want to be on the lookout for:
- Signs of Gambling Addiction: Gambling addiction is far more common but is similar to shopping in the sense of blowing money.
- Signs of Video Game Addiction: Video game addiction is another one that can be hard to spot, so learning more about it can help.
- Signs of Social Media Addiction: Social media is a relatively new addiction but can have severe effects on the person struggling with it.
Shopping addiction might sound funny or made up, but it’s a serious matter that people struggle with daily. Despite being a less common addiction to have, it can be very disruptive to one’s daily life and have dire consequences.
If you or someone you know exhibits any of the signs and symptoms above, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Seeking help can help you or them get their lives back on track and manage their shopping addiction.