Compulsive Shopping Disorder

Sure, shopping sprees can be fun from time to time. After all, everyone deserves to treat themselves to something new once in a while. So when does typical shopping turn into compulsive buying? Read on to find out.

Definition of Compulsive Shopping Disorder

Compulsive shopping, also called compulsive buying disorder, is described as a pattern of chronic, repetitive purchasing that becomes difficult to stop and results in harmful consequences. The shopping and spending is a compulsion associated with a feeling of happiness and power, which is immediately gratifying. The after effects of remorse and guilt drive the spender back to purchase again to achieve that emotional high.[1] Found worldwide, the disorder has a lifetime prevalence of 5.8 percent in the United States.[2]

Types of Compulsive Shopping Disorder

Compulsive shopping disorder is considered an impulse control disorder and has features similar to other addictive disorders without involving the use of an intoxicating drug.[1]

Signs & Symptoms of Compulsive Shopping Disorder

If a person identifies with four or more of the following warning signs for compulsive shopping and spending, he or she may have a potential problem.[1]

  • Shopping or spending money as result of feeling disappointed, angry, or scared
  • Shopping or spending habits causing emotional distress in one’s life
  • Having arguments with others about one’s shopping or spending habits
  • Feeling lost without credit cards
  • Buying items on credit that would not be bought with cash
  • Feeling a rush of euphoria and anxiety when spending money
  • Feeling guilty, ashamed, embarrassed or confused after shopping or spending money
  • Lying to others about purchases made or how much money was spent
  • Thinking excessively about money
  • Spending a lot of time juggling accounts or bills to accommodate spending

Causes of Compulsive Shopping Disorder

There is no known cause of compulsive shopping, but the easy availability of credit and the material focus of society might influence people’s desire got buy now and worry about financial responsibility later. Additionally, 24-hour access to buying prodructs on-line and through the television has made it easier to fulfill one’s shopping impulse.[1]

Effects of Compulsive Shopping Disorder

Research has shown that many compulsive shoppers maybe also have problems with the following:[1]

Treatments for Compulsive Shopping Disorder

There are no known treatments for compulsive shopping disorder. However, antidepressants and cognitive-behavioral therapy have been used to help with symptoms.[2]


  1. Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery. What is compulsive shopping and spending? Retrieved February 7, 2013, from
  2. US National Library of Medicine. A review of compulsive buying disorder. Retrieved February 7, 2013, from

By C. J. Newton, MA, Editor

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