Breaking the Cycle of Shopping Addiction: Tips and Strategies for You

Last Updated
March 7, 2023
A woman exhibiting compulsive shopping behaviors

What Is It?
Helpful Products

Shopping addiction is when someone gets addicted to compulsive shopping, and most of the time don't need the stuff they are buying.

- Emotional regulation
- Escapism
- Reward system
- Social influence
- Low self-esteem
- Impulsivity and poor impulse control
- Co-occurring mental health issues

- Preoccupation
- Compulsive buying
- Financial difficulties:
- Hiding purchases
- Experiencing arguments or tension with loved ones over shopping habits, spending, or the accumulation of possessions.
- Guilt and shame
- Shopping habits interfering with daily responsibilities, work, or school performance
- Experiencing irritability, anxiety, or sadness when attempting to cut back on shopping or when unable to shop
- Loss of control
- Using shopping as emotional coping

- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Psychotherapy
- Group therapy or support groups
- Financial counseling
- Medication
- Lifestyle changes
- Setting limits
- Mindfulness and stress reduction techniques
- Family therapy

Do you buy things even when you don't need them? Do you feel excited when you make a purchase, but then feel guilty and regretful afterward? If this is something you struggle with, it's called shopping addiction.

But don't worry, there are ways in breaking the cycle of shopping addiction, and in this blog, we explain how to stop your compulsive buying.

Important note

Online therapy provides effective support for overcoming shopping addiction, offering personalized strategies, addressing underlying issues, and promoting healthier coping mechanisms.

What is shopping addiction?

Shopping addiction is when someone gets addicted to compulsive shopping, and most of the time doesn't need the stuff they are buying. People who have this problem are called shopaholics. It can be hard to stop and can cause bad things to happen. [1]

The Psychology Behind Shopping Addiction

While shopping can be an enjoyable activity for many, it becomes problematic when it turns into an addiction. Shopping addiction is driven by various psychological factors, such as the need for instant gratification, self-esteem issues, or using shopping as a form of escapism. It is essential to understand these underlying factors to effectively break the cycle of shopping addiction. [10]

Did you know?

Shopping can be an unhealthy coping mechanism, offering a temporary relief from stress or emotions. The thrill fades, leaving emptiness and potential financial strain.
A young man as an example of compulsive shoppers

The Seven Different Types Of Shopping Shopaholics

  • Stress shopper: A shopping addict uses shopping as a way to relieve stress and tension, resulting in impulse buying that is often regretted later on.
  • Social shopper: Shopping becomes an activity with friends or family, resulting in excessive spending while trying to keep up with the group.
  • Materialistic shopper: Someone who uses shopping as a way to fill an emotional void or distract themselves from negative feelings.
  • Bargain hunter: This type of shopper seeks out sales and discounts in order to stretch their budget.
  • Compulsive shoppers: People with a shopping addiction tend to make spontaneous decisions, often without considering the cost or practicality of an item. Their purchases are usually based on emotions rather than logic, which can result in impulse buying.
  • Spontaneous shopper: This type of shopper loves the thrill of impulse buying and often doesn't think twice when it comes to making a purchase. [2]

How do people get addicted to shopping?

Emotional reasons

Some people start compulsive buying to feel better when they are sad, stressed, or lonely. It can also make people happy for a little while.

Social factors

People might shop to spend time with friends or family. They might also do it because their friends are doing it, or because they saw something on social media.


Some people may be more likely to develop a shopping addiction due to their personal characteristics, such as being impulsive, having low self-esteem, or being a perfectionist. Additionally, people who have experienced trauma or abuse may use shopping as a way to make themselves feel better.

Marketing strategies

There are some things that businesses do to make people want to buy their products right away. They might use ads, sales, or other marketing strategies. This makes people think that they need to buy the product quickly because it might not be available later.

Easy access to credit

When you have easy access to credit, it means you're spending money you don't have and is payable to the bank at a certain time.

Mental health conditions

Shopping addiction often starts in a person's late teens or early adulthood. It often happens with other mental health problems, such as mood and anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, personality disorders, and other mental health conditions. [3]

A shopping addict after her shopping spree

Personal Experiences and Trauma

Personal experiences and traumatic events can play a significant role in the development of shopping addiction. Coping with past traumas or difficult life experiences through shopping can provide temporary relief but ultimately contribute to the cycle of addiction.

  • Early Life Experiences: The way individuals relate to shopping and material possessions can often be traced back to their early life experiences. For example, if someone grew up in an environment where material possessions were highly valued, they might be more likely to develop a shopping addiction as a means of seeking validation or self-worth.
  • Traumatic Events: Experiencing traumatic events, such as abuse, loss, or major life changes, can leave individuals feeling overwhelmed and emotionally vulnerable. Shopping can provide a temporary sense of control or escape from these difficult emotions, leading to a reliance on this coping mechanism over time.
  • Emotional Attachment to Material Possessions: Some individuals may develop an emotional attachment to material possessions as a result of past experiences or trauma. This attachment can contribute to the development of shopping addiction, as the individual seeks comfort and security through the acquisition of more items.
  • Negative Self-Image and Perfectionism: Personal experiences that have led to a negative self-image or a tendency towards perfectionism can also contribute to shopping addiction. Individuals might use shopping as a way to improve their self-esteem or to create an idealized image of themselves. [11]
An example of a woman with bad spending habits and impulse control disorders

Normal Shopping vs Shopping Addiction

Normal shopping

  • Purchased items are used
  • No sense of desperate need
  • It doesn't cause financial distress
  • Only occasional spending sprees

Shopping with a compulsive buying disorder

  • Purchase unnecessary items
  • A desperate need to buy things
  • Causes financial distresses
  • Always buying things you cannot afford [4]
A woman who spent too much money shopping

Shopping addiction symptoms

  • Always thinking about the things one wants to buy
  • Unable to stop compulsive shopping
  • Experience a rush of happiness after buying something
  • Immediately feeling bad about something you have bought
  • Problems with money or not being able to pay what you owe
  • Hiding or lying about what was bought
  • Opening new credit cards without paying off the balances on existing cards
  • Purchase items that you don't need
  • Shopping when upset
  • Spending more money than what you have
  • Spending beyond one's means
  • Feeling a sense of euphoria or excitement while shopping
  • Experiencing guilt, shame, or remorse after shopping
  • Hiding purchases from loved ones
  • Shopping as a response to emotional stress
A woman with mental health issues using shopping as one of her coping strategies

The Impact of Shopping Addiction on Mental Health

Shopping addiction can take a toll on one's mental health, leading to feelings of anxiety, depression, and guilt. It can also strain relationships, as excessive shopping may cause financial problems or conflicts with loved ones. Recognizing the negative impact of shopping addiction on mental health is an essential step toward breaking the cycle.

How to cope with a shopping addiction?

Seek therapy

  • Psychotherapy can help you understand your shopping addiction. It can also help you find ways to overcome your tendency to use shopping to cope. [7]
  • Financial counseling will help if you often spend money on things you do not need. This is especially true if you have money owed because you have spent more money than you make. [8]

Helpful tip

The benefits of therapy are profound: improved mental well-being, enhanced self-awareness, strengthened coping skills, and the opportunity for personal growth and healing.

Activities you can do to help yourself

  • Admit that you have a problem. If you think you might have a shopping addiction, be honest with yourself about how it is impacting your life negatively.
  • Be aware of the things that make you want to shop.
  • Follow a budget closely. Make a list of how much money you can spend on things you want each month.
  • There are other ways to deal with stress or bad feelings. This could be exercise, meditation, being with people you love, or doing something you like as a hobby.
  • It is okay to ask your friends or family for help. You can also go to a support group or attend online therapy sessions.
  • Try to stay away from places that make you want to shop, like malls, arcades, and window shopping. Online shopping addiction can also cause you to spend money unnecessarily.
  • Unsubscribe from emails or social media accounts that promote shopping.
  • Remember to take care of yourself! Do things that make you feel good and help you relax. This can include getting a good amount of sleep and eating healthy food. [9]

The Role of Professional Help

For some individuals, overcoming shopping addiction may require professional help. Online Therapy or support groups can be beneficial in addressing the underlying psychological factors contributing to shopping addiction. A mental health professional can also provide guidance on developing healthier coping mechanisms and maintaining long-term recovery.


Shopping addiction can cause money problems and make you feel bad. Try doing other things when feeling stressed or sad, instead of going on a shopping spree. True happiness can not be bought. Remember that compulsive buying behavior can wreak havoc in relationships and can create tension and discord even in the closest of bonds [5] [6] It's important to know if you have shopping addictions, that online therapy is always an option.

Meta description

Shopping addiction, also known as compulsive buying disorder, is a behavioral addiction characterized by excessive and compulsive purchasing that leads to financial and emotional distress.


What are the consequences of shopping addiction?

Shopping addiction can include financial problems, relationship issues, and physical health complications. Additionally, it can lead to feelings of guilt and shame for not being able to control your spending.

How can I prevent shopping addiction?

Develop healthier ways of dealing with stress and emotions such as exercising, talking to a friend, journaling, or meditating. Make sure to create and stick to a budget that works for you. Avoid temptation by avoiding places where you might be tempted to shop like malls or department stores.


  1. The Yale Tribune: Does Shopping Addiction Exist?
  2. PsychGuides: Are There Different Types of Shopping or Spending Addictions?
  3. Understanding compulsive buying - EMU Digital Commons
  4. Understanding compulsive buying - EMU Digital Commons
  5. Academia - Shopping addiction: A preliminary investigation
  6. Academia: Online Shopping Addiction: The Case of Malaysian Youth Consumers
  7. Red Oak Recovery: What Is Psychotherapy in Addiction Treatment?
  8. FBL: What Is Financial Counseling? (And Do You Need It?)
  9. Everyday Health: How I Stopped Compulsive Shopping: One Woman's Journey
  10. Associations Between Materialistic Values, Emotional And Identity-Related Buying Motives, And Compulsive Buying Tendency Online
  11. Research Gate: Compulsive Buying: A Phenomenological Exploration

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Jamie Armstrong
I have a passion for writing. I work as a Senior Marketing Manager for Islomania LLC. I have developed a strong interest in writing articles and website management during my time here. I enjoy both article writing, poetry, and story writing. In my role as a marketing manager, whether I’m writing an article, or a story, or improving other writers’ content, I always try to engage my readers and give them something to think about.
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