Are You a Shopaholic? Symptoms of Shopping Addiction

Signs and symptoms of shopping addiction, compulsive shopping, aren’t difficult to spot. On HealthyPlace, discover how to tell if someone is a shopaholic.

Shopaholics, people with a shopping addiction, take shopping to a whole different level even when they can't afford to do it.

In a Stanford University 2006 study, 17 million Americans were estimated to be shopaholics and nearly half were men. At the time of this landmark study, researchers coined the term "compulsive buying disorder". Like any addiction, the shopping addict exhibits these behaviors: loss of control, increased tolerance, negative consequences, and withdrawal symptoms such as preoccupation, denial, lying, etc.

Shopaholics: Signs and Symptoms of Shopping Addiction, Compulsive Shopping

"Shopping, done to excess, can spin out of control and lead to serious problems, eroding rather than enhancing your quality of life. The more you use shopping as an attempt to fill an inner void, manage your feelings, repair your mood, or pursue a 'perfect' image, the more likely it is that you need to take a closer look at what this behavior is costing you."

- April Lane Benson,Ph.D., compulsive shopping treatment expert and author of I Shop, Therefore I Am: Compulsive Buying and the Search for Self

On Dr. Benson's website, she lists the following symptoms of shopping addiction (compulsive shopping) for the shopaholic, shopping addict, to be aware of. If you answer yes to any of the following, you may want to consider talking to your doctor or a mental health professional for further follow-up (and bring this questionnaire with you).

Find comprehensive information about Shopping Addiction Treatment.

Frequency/ Intensity of Shopping

  • Do you often go on buying binges?
  • Do you find yourself spending more time and/or money buying on the Internet, in catalogs, or on the shopping channels than you want to?
  • Does money burn a hole in your pocket?

Reasons Why and When

  • Do you go shopping because you want to make yourself feel better?
  • Do you often buy things because you think they will make you more like your ideal image?
  • Do you sometimes feel that something inside of you pushes you to shop?
  • Do you shop to avoid doing something else in your life?

Feelings Before, During and After

  • Do you go on buying binges when you're lonely, anxious, disappointed, depressed, or angry?
  • Do you feel "high" when you go on a buying binge?
  • Do you feel anxious, guilty, or ashamed after you go on a buying binge?

More Symptoms of Compulsive Shopping

Impulsive/Compulsive/Addictive Aspects

  • Do you buy things even though you don't need or can't afford them?
  • Do you ever feel on edge, agitated, or irritable when you haven't been able to buy something?
  • Have you tried to stop overshopping but been unable to?

Financial Consequences

  • Do you find yourself making more and more use of credit acquiring more cards, increasing your credit limit, etc.?
  • Have any of your purchases ever resulted in problems with your bank or legal problems?
  • Do you worry about your spending habits but still go out and shop and spend money?

Other Consequences

  • Are your relationships with family and friends suffering because of your buying?
  • Has the craving to buy something ever caused you to miss a social engagement?
  • Has your job performance been suffering because of your buying?

Denial, Avoidance and Shame

  • Do you hide your purchases and shopping trips from family or friends?
  • Are you not opening your mail or answering your phone because you don't want to face the consequences of your buying?
  • Do you not know, or not want to admit, how much you shop?

You can find a short shopping addiction quiz here that measures symptoms of shopping addiction.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2021, December 16). Are You a Shopaholic? Symptoms of Shopping Addiction, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Last Updated: December 30, 2021

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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