The Devastating Impact of Shopping Addiction on Mental and Physical Health

The Devastating Impact of Shopping Addiction on Mental and Physical Health

March 5, 2023 0

It is widely known that any form of addiction can significantly affect one’s mental health. However, have you ever considered the impact of non-substance related habits? The existence of peer support groups such as Shopaholics Anonymous highlights the alarming reality that compulsive shopping can be as detrimental as any other addiction.

In this article, we will delve into the detrimental effects of shopping addiction on mental health, and how this issue can quickly escalate if not addressed promptly. If you or someone you know is grappling with this condition, then this piece is for you.

Understanding Shopping Addiction

Shopping addiction is a mental health condition characterized by an individual’s recurring, impulsive, and often uncontrollable buying behavior. Although shopping can be a delightful and gratifying experience for most people, individuals with shopping addiction struggle to manage their purchasing habits. Those with this addiction often feel a strong urge to buy things impulsively, regardless of their financial means or actual need for the item.

Some common signs of shopping addiction include:

  • Continuously purchasing items, both online and in-person, even when they already have an excessive amount of the same item
  • Regularly maxing out credit cards
  • Spending long periods in stores, both online and offline
  • Devising elaborate strategies to conceal their purchases from loved ones
  • Feeling guilty or ashamed about their buying behavior.

If left unaddressed, compulsive and uncontrolled purchasing habits can significantly disrupt an individual’s life, leading to financial problems and damaged relationships.

Development of Shopaholism: How it Occurs

As previously mentioned, shopaholism is a condition in which an individual becomes psychologically dependent on shopping, repeatedly engaging in the act of buying new items to an often excessive degree. However, it is crucial to understand that shopaholism is not just about acquiring items but also the excitement associated with obtaining a new purchase.

While some people may use shopping as a healthy way to destress, individuals with shopaholism struggle to control their urge to shop. This behavior can result in serious consequences, such as financial difficulties and psychological distress. Contributing factors to the development of shopaholism include:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Social pressure from peers
  • Family influences
  • Compulsive behavior disorders
  • Depression.

Breaking this cycle can be challenging, and it is essential to seek help if one finds themselves unable to control their shopping behavior.

Psychological Effects of Compulsive Purchasing

Compulsive buying can significantly impact one’s mental health. Research studies have shown that individuals with compulsive buying behaviors are three times more likely to experience depression, four times more likely to receive a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder, and twice as likely to have bipolar disorder.

Compulsive buying sprees often result in financial difficulties, leading to increased stress, shame, and guilt. In addition, individuals may feel inadequate or worthless when engaging in this behavior. It is essential for anyone who may be struggling with compulsive buying to seek help from a mental health professional or medical doctor to address their symptoms and find an appropriate treatment plan.

Physical Consequences of Shopping Addiction

Shopping addiction can result in severe physical consequences, including chronic fatigue due to a lack of sleep caused by the pursuit of shopping and financial difficulties. In addition, those addicted to shopping often experience anxiety and depression that can lead to physical symptoms such as:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Aches and pains
  • A general sense of unease.

Research has also revealed that shopaholics have an increased risk of substance abuse as a means of self-medicating their internal turmoil. They may ignore basic needs such as hunger to focus on their addiction.

Therefore, it is crucial for individuals struggling with compulsive shopping, or those with loved ones struggling, not to ignore any physical symptoms associated with the disorder. Proper treatment can provide relief from addictive behavior.

Treatment Approaches for Shopaholism

Shopaholism can have severe consequences, including financial instability and mental health strain. However, there are various treatment options available for individuals struggling with 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 to the development of the shopping compulsion. This approach helps individuals reframe their thoughts in healthier ways, reducing 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, and lifestyle changes designed to support personal coping skills. It is crucial for individuals seeking treatment to find a therapist who specializes in working with shoppers to receive the most appropriate care for their specific needs.

Supporting a Loved One with Shopping Addiction

If a loved one is struggling with shopaholism, it can be challenging to know how to support them. It is crucial not to judge or criticize their behavior and instead provide non-judgmental support. This support may differ for each individual; some may benefit from assistance with paying off debts or creating a budget, while others may need someone to confide in and talk to.

Moreover, researching local resources such as rehabilitation centers and self-help programs can be helpful in aiding your loved one to overcome their problem. Ultimately, demonstrating understanding and compassion is crucial when helping someone overcome shopaholism and restoring peace to their life


In conclusion, shopaholism or compulsive purchasing is a severe mental health condition that can significantly impact individuals. Despite not receiving much attention, it can lead to dangerous levels of spending and potentially cause significant emotional, psychological, and physical consequences. Thus, it is essential to take seriously any signs of excessive spending or preoccupation with purchasing that could indicate compulsive buying behavior.

Treating shopaholism should focus on addressing underlying emotional issues while also providing resources and support to help individuals stop compulsive purchase behaviors. Various treatment approaches have been shown to be effective, including psychotherapy, psychoeducational sessions, pharmacological treatments, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Overall, seeking professional help is crucial if you or a loved one is struggling with shopping addiction since early intervention can significantly reduce the impact of this disorder on one’s life.