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One of the biggest challenges we face as humans is breaking a behavior. When you have a pattern that creates negative consequences in your life, you may need help. Here we explain what shopping addiction is and what you can do about it.

What is shopping addiction?

Shopping addiction, also known as compulsive buying or oniomania, is a psychological problem behavior and addiction in which an individual feels an irresistible pull to make purchases and spend money, often in ways that are detrimental to their financial, social and personal lives. This behavior goes beyond regular consumption and becomes a way of dealing with emotional problems, stress or low self-esteem. It can lead to severe consequences financially, emotionally and in relationships for the person affected.

Is shopping addiction a diagnosis?

Shopping addiction is recognised as an addiction by the HSE in Ireland, and by other psychological organisations, yet it is a not-so-commonly spoken about topic in Ireland.

It is a real and sometimes serious psychological problem. The symptoms of shopping addiction are similar to those seen in other addiction disorders, such as compulsive behavior, continued involvement in harmful activities despite negative consequences, and a sense of loss of control. If you have the problem, you can still seek help and get treatment.

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Causes of shopping addiction

Shopping addiction is thought to be caused by a mixture of psychological, social and biological factors. It can include coping with negative emotions such as anxiety or depression, the influence of marketing and social pressure, and a possible biological predisposition to addictive behaviors.

It can also be linked to other mental health conditions and used as a coping mechanism for emotional pain or as a way to achieve temporary happiness or reward. Each case is unique and treatment is tailored to each individual.

Symptoms of shopping addiction

Although shopping addiction is not an official diagnosis, there are some characteristic features. These can include:

  1. Irresistible urge to shop: An overwhelming attraction or compulsion to buy things, even when there is no need or financial room for it.
  2. Emotional fulfillment: Shopping is used as a way to deal with negative emotions such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, or loneliness.
  3. Post-purchase guilt: After shopping, the individual may feel guilt, shame or regret, but despite this, the behavior continues.
  4. Financial problems: Continued shopping despite financial difficulties or indebtedness as a direct consequence of the purchases.
  5. Conflicts in relationships: The shopping behavior may lead to conflicts with family members or friends, often because of the financial consequences.
  6. Hiding the behavior: The person may hide the purchases, the amounts they spend, or the number of items purchased from loved ones.
  7. Dependence on the emotion: A feeling of euphoria or excitement during the purchasing process itself, followed by an emotional ‘hangover’.

Help with shopping addiction

If you wonder whether you have a shopping addiction or are at risk of developing one, it is important to seek help. Otherwise, problems can develop and get worse over time.

Treatment for shopping addiction

Treatment may include therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help the individual understand and change their behavior, and counseling to address any underlying mental health issues. In some cases, medication to manage anxiety or depression may also be part of the treatment plan.

Treatment with CBT online

You can get therapy for shopping addiction online. At Lavendla, we have licensed psychologists and CBT therapists who can help you with treatment.


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From conversation to understanding and change

Talk therapy is often the first step in seeking help. By working with a psychologist or therapist, you can begin to understand your symptoms and triggers, which is essential for long-term change.

When professional help is unavoidable

If you are experiencing signs of abuse or addiction that are affecting your life or work, it is essential that you seek professional help. There are many training courses on addiction and dependency that caregivers undergo to provide the best possible support and treatment.

It is never too late to break free from abuse or addiction. Help is available and support is just a click away. So if you or someone you love is struggling with these issues, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

The first step to change

Book a 20- or 45-minute session with a psychologist or therapist today via our website booking form. If the time is not right now, remember that there is always a possibility to come back when you are ready to make a change. Together we make the hard things easier.


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12 common questions and answers about shopping addiction

What is shopping addiction?

Addiction is a complex psychological condition in which the individual feels an inability to stop performing a certain activity, despite negative consequences.

Is shopping addiction a disease?

Shopping addiction is not formally recognised as a specific diagnosis in the major diagnostic manuals, but this does not mean that it is not a problem behaviour.

Can shopping addiction be cured?

All types of addiction can be treated, but it often requires care and support. It is possible to change your patterns and improve your quality of life.

What are the signs that I may be a shopping addict?

Symptoms include an excessive compulsion to shop, obsessive thoughts about shopping, and loss of control, resulting in negative feelings and consequences.

What are the risks of shopping addiction?

The potential risks range from problems with our physical and mental health, finances and relationship problems. It is therefore advisable to seek help if you have this problem.

How can I help a family member with a shopping addiction?

The first step is to offer your support. Encourage them to seek professional help and stand by them during treatment. Seek information about the problem if you find it difficult to understand and, if you are a partner, you may also need therapy.

What treatment options are available?

There are several different types of treatment such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Can you have another mental health problem at the same time as being addicted to shopping?

There may be underlying mental health problems such as anxiety, depression or other mental health problems.

What can be done in case of relapse?

Relapse can happen and it is important to seek help immediately. Relapse is not a sign of failure but it is important to act quickly to get back on track.

What resources are available?

In addition to our professional therapists and psychologists, there are many websites, books, and support groups that can offer additional information and support.

Can I be treated online?

Yes, several of our therapists and psychologists offer support sessions via video conferencing, for example.

How important is the support system around a person with an addiction?

A support system is often crucial to successful recovery. This includes professional help with treatment and a good support system both emotionally and practically. It can help reduce the risk of relapse and help the person maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Treatment steps to improve quality of life

Treatment for a shopping addiction differs from person to person although they often follow a similar format. To help you understand what professional help to break a destructive behavior might look like, we have listed examples of the different phases.

  1. Evaluation and diagnosis
    The first step is often a thorough evaluation by a licensed psychologist or qualified therapist.
  2. Treatment planning
    An individual treatment plan is created, which often includes different treatment methods such as psychotherapy, drug treatment and sometimes even self-help groups.
  3. Psychotherapeutic treatment
    Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most commonly recommended method. It involves working with thoughts, feelings and behaviors related to the addiction. Relapse prevention is also usually part of the treatment. It may also include motivational interviewing.
  4. Follow-up and Maintenance
    Long-term treatment and follow-up are often necessary to prevent relapse. This may include regular meetings with health care providers and continued participation in support groups.
  5. Lifestyle changes
    Changes in lifestyle, including work, leisure and relationships, are often necessary to support long-term recovery.
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Written by Ellen Lindgren

Licensed psychologist

Ellen is a licensed psychologist and has experience mainly in clinical psychology where she has worked with various conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, crises and trauma in primary care and psychiatry. She has also worked with research while studying in the US and with affective disorders and insomnia at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.