Is a shopaholic sick or a spender? To the delight of marketers, to the delight of the wallet!

Shopaholism or oniomania is a type of mental addictive disorder. The patient's behavior becomes irrational; he strives to buy for the sake of the process itself, and not for the utilitarian benefit that the item of purchase brings. For example, a woman going to the store can bring a dozen new accessories, several pairs of shoes and God knows what else. Does she need all this? No, in most cases it is not necessary. Accordingly, we are talking about a type of pathological process.

The disorder known as shopaholism has been considered a disease for a relatively long time. Addiction was introduced as a separate diagnosis at the end of the 19th century, and is now considered a full-fledged disease. In the countries of the former Soviet Union, the problem is not treated so favorably. Quite the opposite. Shopaholism is considered a human whim, a bad habit and an inability to control oneself. This is only one side of the coin, and not the main one.

We are talking about full-fledged addictive behavior. Varieties of compulsion, when in order to relieve psychological discomfort, a person performs a certain ritual. In the case of oniomania, such a “calming” action is going to the store.

As a rule, they purchase food and durable goods. Shoes, clothes, jewelry, equipment and much more. Much less often - food, but it happens.

Shopaholism affects mainly women, men - much less often. The ratio is approximately 7:1. Although oniomania is not as destructive as alcoholism and drug addiction, it entails catastrophic social consequences. The patient loses money and can spend more and more, turning into a real maniac consumer. Therefore, in all cases treatment is required. What it will be depends on the clinical situation.

What is shopaholism

Shopaholism or oniomania is an uncontrollable desire to shop. Moreover, most of them are unnecessary and represent unreasonable expenses. Otherwise known as compulsive shopping.

The word "oniomania" comes from two Greek words. Onis is for sale, and mania is madness. The translation speaks for itself. Shopaholism is not considered a disease and is therefore not listed in the International Classification of Diseases or ICD-10. According to many scientists, this is just a sign of a lack of willpower. They compare it to a craving for sweets, for example.

However, in fact, shopaholism is a real disease. According to studies, going to the store provokes the same changes in the body of a shopaholic that occur in alcoholics, drug addicts and gambling addicts. It turns out that this is the same form of addictive behavior, a mental disorder that requires treatment.

A little history and statistics

Shopaholism was first talked about as a disease and addiction back in the 19th century. German and Swiss psychiatrists Emil Kraepelin and Eugen Bleuler described its symptoms and manifestations. The most famous shopaholic of the 20th century is rightfully considered Barbara Zielinski, who even compiled a number of rules for people like her:

  1. Those who get up early will visit more shops.
  2. If you don’t buy something you need, it will harm your health.
  3. We won't stand behind the price.

Barbara distinguished herself by managing to spend her husband's salary in less than 2 minutes. This became a world record. The man, unable to cope with his wife’s hobbies, eventually divorced her.

Today, the largest number of people suffering from shopaholism live in America. There are about 15,000,000 of them. There are 700,000 shopaholics in England. In Russia, 7% of the population suffers from oniomania.

The most famous shopaholics of our time are Victoria Beckham and Sarah Jessica Parker. The first one already has more than 100 bags from one famous brand. And the second one cannot resist buying another pair of shoes. Sarah now has over 100 different pairs.

What is the danger of shopaholism - addiction to shopping?

Shopaholism has dangerous social consequences:

  • Family conflicts, including divorce or family discord
  • Debts, the way out of which is often depriving the family of money, selling some valuables and family heirlooms for next to nothing
  • Thefts in the family, on the street, at work, in shopping centers and other places
  • Fraudulent activities
  • Stealing money from close relatives' home
  • Psychosomatic disorders and decreased immunity, and as a result, these people begin to get sick more often

Types of shopaholics

Shopaholism manifests itself differently in everyone. In psychology, there are several types of shopaholics:

  1. Impulsive. Such people do not agree that they have a problem. They go to the store with a list of necessary products and things, but already there they forget about it, buying everything they see on their way. And if the store is having a sale or there are discounts, excess purchases will be made 100%.
  2. Conscious. The person realizes that he has oniomania. He also understands that the desire to buy new clothes or any other product appears in those moments when he is stressed. For him, going to the store is one of the ways to relax, lift his spirits and take his mind off bad thoughts. Alcoholics take alcoholic beverages for this purpose, drug addicts use prohibited substances, and conscious shopaholics make meaningless purchases.
  3. Purposeful. This type of shopaholic is the most difficult for psychologists to work with. Their desire to buy everything does not depend on their mood or stress. They don’t see the problem and don’t agree that they have an addiction. Purchases are made spontaneously. Moreover, in most cases they do not remember how they did it and why.
  4. Copycats. Shopaholics of this type will definitely buy an item that they saw from friends, acquaintances, in commercials, or just from someone on the street. Nothing will stop them.
  5. Saving. This kind of shopaholism is called veiled. A person sincerely believes that he knows how to save money. And he really tries to live frugally. But once you find out about sales and discounts, the situation changes radically. He rushes headlong to the store, which leads to unjustified spending and the acquisition of completely unnecessary things.

How to become shopaholics: causes of oniomania

There is an opinion that shopping is a great way to cheer yourself up and get rid of stress. This is partly true because of the positive emotions that new things bring us. But shopaholism becomes a disease when a person falls into a vicious circle: first the pleasure of shopping, then the feeling of guilt and self-disappointment from inordinate spending of money, and then shopping again to relieve stress.

Psychologists believe that oniomania is more susceptible to people who lacked parental attention and care in childhood. Having become adults, they continue to suffer from “dislike” and turn purchases into some kind of gifts to themselves. Those who grew up in poor families as children are also prone to shopping addiction. In this case, numerous purchases become the easiest way to prove your worth to everyone around you. [3]

But still, the main reasons for shopaholism, according to psychologists, are the personal characteristics of a person and his relationships with others. [2] Let us indicate the reasons that can cause dependence:

  1. Inadequate self-esteem

When a person is not confident in himself, he begins to acquire things that would make him more attractive and significant in the eyes of others. There is a risk that the situation will get out of control, turning into shopaholism.

According to psychologists, it is women shopaholics who often become addicted due to low self-esteem. Not satisfied with their appearance, they begin to fill their closets with clothes, jewelry, and cosmetics. Men “suffer” from this less often. [3]

  1. Emotional discomfort

Anxiety, chronic stress and depression, a tendency to anger and hysterical outbursts - emotional discomfort often causes the development of shopaholism. A person tries to fight negative emotions with the help of purchases. Naturally, addiction does not solve deep psychological problems, but only aggravates them.

  1. Problems at work or in the family

A person’s inability to successfully resolve conflicts (whether at work or at home) encourages him to become dependent. This can be any bad habit, including shopaholism. Numerous purchases give a person the illusion of control over their life. In this way he tries to escape from constant problems.

  1. Loneliness

Active shopping gives the buyer maximum positive emotions due to the release of joy hormones. This helps a person fill the inner emptiness and not feel so lonely.

According to psychologists, loneliness and a feeling of inner emptiness often lead specifically to female shopaholism. Women, listening to imposed stereotypes, are more worried about the fact that they have not started a family by a certain age. [3]

  1. Low level of self-regulation

Due to innate personal qualities, acquired habits or upbringing, a low level of self-regulation can cause the development of shopaholism. A person does not work on himself, is not able to recognize his emotions and refuse unplanned expenses, saying a decisive “no” to a new purchase.

Reasons for the development of shopaholism

Like other types of mental disorders, shopaholism or oniomania has its roots in childhood. There are two wrong parenting models:

  1. The child is made into a family idol. He is spoiled, capricious, demanding, and gets everything when called upon. As a result, an emotionally unstable, selfish person grows up. As a child, he received a lot of attention. Trying to attract him as an adult, he demonstratively spends money left and right. Moreover, these expenses are completely unreasonable.
  2. In the second model of upbringing, an authoritarian regime dominates in the family. Parents constantly demand something from their child. They do not show him love and affection, do not care about him. Therefore, the child feels deprived and abandoned. As adults, such shopaholics strive to make up for the lack of a good attitude. By buying unnecessary things, they show how much they love themselves. This is how they gain a sense of need.

Other reasons for the development of shopaholism are:

  • feeling of dissatisfaction with oneself and life, loneliness;
  • attention deficit;
  • lack of love and male interest (for women);
  • desire to receive recognition and praise.

Another reason for shopaholism is the desire to again experience the pleasant sensations of making a purchase. At this moment, the amount of serotonin or the happiness hormone increases in the body. It gives pleasure and also helps to cope with negative emotions.

Don't forget about the influence of advertising. Marketers know how to present a product in such a way that a person wants to buy it with all his heart. They show the relationship between a thing and qualities such as sexuality, attractiveness, status, etc. By making purchases, a shopaholic increases his self-esteem, shows his importance and financial well-being.


Fighting shopaholism is long and difficult. It is much easier to prevent its development. Here are some prevention tips:

  • It is important to learn how to manage expenses. Either on your own or with the help of others.
  • Need to find a hobby.
  • It is important to maintain a healthy social life. Don't go into seclusion, but don't overdo it either. Find a comfortable social circle.
  • Self-development is also a good way to prevent addiction.
  • It makes sense to master several relaxation techniques. To relieve anxiety.
  • If you have mental disorders, do not hesitate to consult a doctor.

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Signs of shopaholism

Shopaholism or oniomania has a number of characteristic symptoms:

  1. Shopping, visiting sales and monitoring discounts becomes the main hobby of a shopaholic. With these activities he replaces any other recreation, for example, reading books, walking in the fresh air, playing sports, watching TV, etc.
  2. A person develops a bad habit of buying what he doesn’t need. And he can't be stopped. In his apartment or house you can find a real warehouse of boxes and bags with new purchases. But it is unlikely that he will use any of this.
  3. How do you behave if you need to buy, say, a new slow cooker? Be sure to first study the assortment, compare prices, decide on the configuration and set of necessary functions. A person with shopaholism will do the opposite. He will buy everything.
  4. If a shopaholic does not have enough money to buy the desired product, he begins to panic, using any means to get what he wants. This often ends in taking out a loan at unreasonably high interest rates. A person who does not suffer from shopaholism usually in this case postpones the purchase until later.
  5. Usually shopaholics are fans of watching fashion shows and TV shows about fashion, as well as leafing through fashion magazines. They understand clothing brands and the latest trends better than others. People with shopaholism are ready to talk about these topics for days. By the way, this is often the only topic in which they are well versed.
  6. Walking through shops and shopping centers gives a person incredible pleasure. Even window shopping makes him happy.
  7. To get rid of stress or cope with anxiety and worries, a shopaholic does not go to the gym, go into nature or meet with friends. He goes to the store. This is the only thing that can calm him down and bring him to his senses.

Love of shopping or dangerous disease?

Shopaholism is a disease. It should not be confused with the love of shopping that many people have. Normally, a person spends money thoughtfully and enjoys using the things he buys.

With a mental disorder, things are different. The patient experiences an indescribable feeling of euphoria when he buys something. At the same time, he cannot resist the internal desire to acquire things that, in fact, he does not need. This leads to serious expenses, debts, and outstanding loans.

People suffering from oniomania (this is the term psychologists use when talking about shopaholism) have problems in relationships with relatives and friends. Any person who tries to “guide them on the right path” automatically becomes an enemy.

Shopping addiction can even be compared to alcoholism or drug addiction - the desire to go to shopping centers is so strong. The situation is aggravated by the fact that over time the symptoms of the disorder become more pronounced.

Consequences of shopaholism

Psychologists consider shopaholism a socially acceptable addiction. In essence, a person does not harm others. If it does not cross acceptable boundaries, then oniomania really helps improve mood and overcome stress. This is where it differs from alcoholism and drug addiction. The “patient” does not degrade as a person, does not steal or kill.

But there is still a problem with shopaholism and it lies in the deterioration of relationships with family and friends. In most cases, they do not approve of unreasonable waste of the family budget. What can we say about situations when a person takes out several loans. Sometimes all this ends in loud scandals or even divorce.

Oniomaniac himself also suffers from shopaholism. If he cannot pay off loans and debts, he develops depression, anxiety, and neuroses. The problem is that he cannot eliminate them, because he is used to doing this through purchases. The inability to get what you want provokes apathy. It turns out to be some kind of vicious circle.

Diagnosis of the disorder

Specialists are involved in diagnosing deviations. There is no special test for shopaholism. But there are special addictive identity questionnaires that show the characteristics of a person and his behavior in a static way. To study the issue in dynamics, several consultations are needed. Plus, it wouldn’t hurt to involve the individual’s relatives and friends in the case. Those who care about him and who can tell you more about the condition. This is important because the patient cannot objectively assess his behavior. Criticism towards pathological dependence is lost. Partially or completely.

In addition, an oral interview with the patient is required. We need to understand whether we are really talking about shopaholism. The doctor collects anamnesis. The question is where the pathological process “grows its legs.”

The problem is the shortage of qualified doctors. Many specialists in the countries of the former Soviet Union still consider shopaholism as stupidity. Inability to control oneself and just a whim, which, of course, is not the case. It is important to answer the question of whether it is a hobby or a pathology. Only then can therapy begin.

Advice from psychologists: how to treat shopaholism

Treatment of shopaholism begins with awareness of the problem. Then you need to find out at what point the irresistible desire to make a purchase arises. Maybe you're bored? Or are you feeling angry and aggressive? To understand exactly what pushes you to thoughtless spending, keep a diary of emotions. Write down everything you feel in moments of breakdown. This will help you see the picture from different sides.

Now think about it: what need are you replacing with shopping? Do you miss entertainment and communication with friends? Or is this an attempt to cope with negative emotions?

Next, determine what exactly you like about shopping. This could be the opportunity to spend time with friends who accompany you, looking at a product surrounded by many people, searching for the necessary thing.

Risk factors

More often than others, people who experience addiction are:

  • with low levels of self-esteem;

  • prone to aggressive behavior;
  • easily suggestible;
  • poorly adaptable to new conditions;
  • unsure of themselves;
  • overly emotional;
  • self-centered.

It is important to understand that shopaholics are not born. It’s just that for some reason a person begins to devote more and more time to shopping and gradually loses control of himself in them.

How to deal with shopaholism: 10 ways

So, how to get rid of shopaholism? There are 10 ways:

  1. If you go to the store, take only cash with you. A credit card will give you the feeling that the money is endless. But a real bill will help get rid of it. You will understand that you are giving it away irrevocably.
  2. Under no circumstances should you apply for a loan if you currently do not have the opportunity to buy what you want. Sign a loan agreement only in cases where it is really necessary. This may be the need to treat a serious illness, purchase vital goods, etc. A loan is also justified when purchasing household appliances, a car and other products that are difficult to save up for.
  3. Always take your shopping list with you. Even before leaving home, calculate how much money you need for them. Don't deviate from what you have planned.
  4. As soon as you have the urge to go to the store, stop, take a break. Convince yourself that you will go there next time, and now you need to do something else. A pause gives you the opportunity to cool down and think about whether the thing you wanted to buy is really necessary.
  5. Another effective way to combat shopaholism is to always remember that discounts and sales are a smart marketing ploy designed to increase sales. So don't be tempted by them.
  6. Resist yourself from the desire to buy the first thing you come across. If you know exactly what you want, go to other stores, compare prices and quality.
  7. Don't forget that in a few months the new collection will cost much less than it does now. While it becomes cheaper, you will be able to understand whether you need these things or not.
  8. To successfully combat shopaholism, ignore magazines and fashion shows. Avoid advertising, do not go to online shopping sites.
  9. Find an activity that will take your mind off shopping. A new hobby can help you improve your mood and combat stress in other ways.
  10. Always justify your purchases. First, consider the feasibility of purchasing this or that item, then study discounts and advantageous offers.

If one of your relatives suffers from shopaholism, try to protect him from stressful situations that may provoke the desire to run out shopping. Do not conflict with him, but rather find joint activities that will give you positive emotions. If the situation gets out of control, limit the person's access to finances.

How to identify a shopaholic: addiction detection test

Sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether a loved one is a shopaholic. Many people simply love shopping - choosing clothes, looking for interesting offers from their favorite brands, keeping an eye on promotions and sales. But all this does not mean that a person exhibits psychological disorders.

Do you suspect that your love of shopping with a loved one is gradually developing into mania? Analyze his behavior. Shopaholism is not just a waste of money. This is also the emotional state of a person when making purchases. It is important to evaluate the entire range of signs indicating oniomania.

We invite you to take a test to understand whether there are grounds for concern in relation to your loved one. [2] Answer “yes” or “no” to 10 statements.

  1. A person is so passionate about teleshopping that he often orders what he needs and what he doesn’t need from them.
  2. A loved one, despite all the agreements, often violates the inviolability of his personal or family savings for the sake of making purchases.
  3. Many of the things a person buys hang in the closet right with the price tags, because he does not wear them.
  4. A person is aware of all the sales in the nearest supermarkets and certainly goes there to “buy everything on the cheap.”
  5. A person always buys extremely expensive gifts for friends and relatives, even if he cannot afford it.
  6. A person constantly borrows money or takes out loans from banks.
  7. A loved one takes a very long time to pay off accumulated debts, which causes his relationships with friends to deteriorate.
  8. For a short time after a purchase, a person experiences a feeling of guilt due to thoughtless spending.
  9. A person constantly hides his real expenses and lies about the number of purchases made.
  10. A loved one becomes apathetic, irritable or even aggressive if, for one reason or another, they cannot buy something.

Count the number of positive answers. If there are more than 6 of them, your loved one is already close to joining the ranks of shopaholics. Support him and help him overcome his addiction.

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