Shopping Addiction Is Just As Serious As Any Other Addiction And What You Can Do About It

The article is written by Ana Yong and appears here first on Ana_Writes.

  1. What is Shopping Addition aka Oniomania?
  2. What is the Difference between “Normal Shopping” and Oniomania?
  3. How does Shopping Affect You?
  4. Why Should You Be Worried About Shopping Addiction?
  5. What are the Tell-Tale Signs of Oniomania?
  6. Why is it so Hard to Know if Some One is a Shopping Addict?
  7. Six Types of Shopping Addicts by
  8. What to Do if You think You have a Shopping Addiction?

1. What is Shopping Addition aka Oniomania?

Oniomania (pronounced as onio-ma-ni-a) is a widely-known condition which can become an obsession and cause other complications. Shopping addiction “is a behavioral addiction that involves compulsive buying as a way to feel good and avoid negative feelings, such as anxiety and depression.” (1) As at 2019, about 6 percent of the people in the United States suffer from Oniomania. (2)

2. What is the Difference between “Normal Shopping” and Oniomania?

The difference between “Normal Shopping” and Oniomania is that the activity of shopping becomes the addict’s preferred way of handling the pressures of life.

3. How does Shopping Affect You?

Yes, another sale!
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

When you know that a certain shop is having a “sale”, you experience a “Dopamine Rush” which happens when a certain area of your brain that contains Dopamine Receptors are triggered. (3) This rush makes you feel happy and excited when you see items on sale and it creates a sensation of instant pleasure. This means that the more you shop, the more enjoyment you experience. To some, the high gives them self-esteem and may translate into a display of social wealth. Some people need to feel this rush regularly and so shopping becomes an addiction to them.

4. Why Should You Be Worried About Shopping Addiction?

To Buy or Not To Buy – that is the question.
Photo by Pradeep Ranjan on Unsplash

You should be worried if you feel that it is “getting out of hand”, for example, you notice that a family member has to make a purchase (even though he or she has no use for the item) every time you go out shopping. There is no “window shopping” because the addict always ends up buying something. Shopping addicts often spend more money than they can afford to and may purchase things that they may not need. Ultimately, this results in them accumulating huge debts which they are unable to pay off.

As the shopping addict would surely not see this as a problem, it is up to friends and family to intervene.

5. What are the Tell-Tale Signs of Oniomania?

Shopping is my life.
Photo by Harry Cunningham on Unsplash

a) You are constantly trying to make ends meet

You have a decent job making decent money but yet you are out of cash way before your next pay day. You may even need to borrow from friends and family and you promise to repay them when you get your next pay.

b) You can’t make the monthly installment payments

You may have purchased a big-ticket item like a car a few months ago and now you are struggling to meet the installment payments every month.

c) You must buy something every time you go shopping

To shopping addicts, buying something makes them feel good about themselves.

d) You buy things you know you don’t need or won’t use

This happens, for example, when you buy an outfit that’s two sizes smaller because it is on sale and this also gives you a “reason” to lose weight.

e) You try to hide what you have bought

Putting your purchases away immediately when you reach home means that you could be suffering from some kind of guilt and do not want your family members to find out.

f) You have items lying around that are not opened or used

When friends or family members visit you, they usually find purchases everywhere in the house which still have price tags on or are still in their original wrappers.

6. Why is it so Hard to Know if Some One is a Shopping Addict?

Online shopping using a credit card.
Photo by on Unsplash

a) Online Shopping

With the popularity of internet shopping, it is very hard to know how much your friend or family member is spending on purchases.

b) Use of Credit Cards

Unless you have access to the addict’s credit card bill, it is virtually impossible to know how much is spent on shopping.

7. Six Types of Shopping Addicts

Flashy shopaholics spend big and look for the most dazzling items. Their goal (or reward) is to impress others.

Bargain hunters will buy products that they don’t need simply because they’re on sale. Getting a deal is what drives the addiction.

Compulsion-shopping addicts turn to retail when they’re emotionally strained. The act of purchasing relieves anxiety.

Trophy hunters want to find the perfect items and will search diligently for the best products. The search is the compulsion.

Collectors want multiple versions of the same item in a different color, size, etc. For these individuals, collecting fuels the addiction.

Bulimic shoppers – as the names suggests – cycle through buying and returning items.

8. What to Do if You think You have a Shopping Addiction?

Stop and Think.
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

a) Talk to friends and family members about it

You could ask them whether they feel you have a tendency to shop excessively or unnecessarily.

b) Ask some one you trust to hold on to your credit card

If you feel that you cannot resist a “sale”, ask someone to hang onto your credit card for safekeeping and to let you use it only for emergencies.

c) Do your own research on how to tackle the addiction

If you suspect that you have a shopping addiction but don’t want anyone to know, do your investigation online to find help.

d) Seek professional assistance

You can make a private, one-to-one appointment with a qualified medical professional to handle your addiction without your loved ones knowing about it.


(1) & (2) An Overview of Shopping Addiction By Elizabeth Hartney, BSc., MSc., MA, PhD and Medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD (Updated on 23 March 2020) for

(3) Why Shopping Makes you Feel High by The NeuroTracker Team (18 December 2016) 

Published by Ana Yong

Freelance Writer, Blogger and Content Creator. I have written for Unsustainable Magazine, E: The Environmental Magazine and HubPages.

6 thoughts on “Shopping Addiction Is Just As Serious As Any Other Addiction And What You Can Do About It

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