Should A Shopping Addiction Be Considered A Mental Illness?

Should A Shopping Addiction Be Considered A Mental Illness?

Although a shopping addiction isn’t currently classified as a singular, standalone diagnosis, it does fall under impulse control disorders, highly associated with mental illnesses.

Yet, without its standalone diagnosis as a separate mental health condition, limited research, knowledge and addiction treatment is present, making it hard for individuals to recover.

Shopping is an everyday activity. From purchasing necessities, such as food, to buying gifts and personal items, shopping is considered as a natural behaviour; it is in fact a daily requirement in most cases to live.

However, there’s a fraction of the population currently struggling with a shopping addiction, falling under impulse control disorders. Here is where ongoing purchases are made, even without available funds, to purchasing unnecessary, useless items to suppress irritability.

Here’s what you need to know about having an addiction to shopping, the signs, symptoms, its connection to mental illness and the possible recovery routes to consider.

Here at Rehab Clinics Group, we specialise in addiction therapy and recovery. If you’re struggling with an impulse control disorder or habitual behaviour, feel free to reach out for our confidential advice.


The rise of mental illness

Unfortunately, we now live in a world where mental illness is common. Down to both nature and nurture, mental health conditions are altering the lives of many individuals across the globe. In connection to mental illness, impulse control disorders are also on the rise, commonly formed as a coping mechanism.

Although this may initially be a difficult topic to understand, underlying mental health conditions can result in the influence and development of compulsive behaviours. To combat those mental health conditions, compulsive behaviours will be used as a coping mechanism, as a distraction.

Yet, in turn, those affected are worsening the underlying mental illness, by fuelling the cravings of those impulse control disorders; consider OCD as a common example.

This is where a shopping addiction can show itself. Many individuals will use shopping as a coping mechanism, as a distraction to divert from depression or stress.

In this cycle, shopping will be identified as a positive experience, as an escape. Yet, here is where the potential of developing a shopping addiction is present; similarly, resembling how further addictions, such as alcoholism, are formed.


Signs of an addiction to shopping

General day to day shopping is normal. If you go over budget or leave a store with more than you’d originally planned, this is far from compulsive shopping.

If your online basket continuously grows, this again isn’t viewed as a shopping addiction, as in most cases, those items will remain unpurchased. Many will brand themselves as shopping addicts or shopaholics, yet this is miles from the reality of those suffering from true compulsive disorders.

Compulsive shopping is where a habit is formed around the continuous purchase of unnecessary items, even when limited funds are available. It’s having the subconscious urge to purchase, the ongoing desire of a shopping spree, the need to buy something online.

It’s heavily connected to mental illness, and the compulsion to complete certain behaviours, usually as a coping mechanism. It is an unpleasant experience to deal with and can cause life-altering impacts.


Here are common signs of compulsive buying disorder:

  • The need to purchase something, no matter what it is, whether it has a purpose or brings value to your life.
  • Irritability if purchases aren’t made, fuelling greater mental health side effects.
  • Entertaining regular shopping sprees even when funds aren’t available.
  • Maxing out credit cards on unnecessary items.
  • Continuously scrolling and scouring the web for new items and deals, commonly resulting in a bulk-purchase.
  • Hiding purchases from loved ones

Alongside the above signs, it’s also important to remember that compulsive buying disorders highly correlate with mental illness, such as paranoia, anxiety and depression.

The need to complete those compulsive behaviours will be fuelled by the underlying symptoms of mental illness, with the aim to feel better. If you’re using shopping to block out those feelings or emotions, you could be fuelling an addiction.


The true impacts of a shopping addiction

Shopping addiction is a real thing. Many with little knowledge of mental illness and addiction will identify this diagnosis as humorous. However, it is possible to have an addiction to shopping, to compulsive shopping.

However, as shopping addiction falls under impulse control disorders, little help is available for individuals experiencing an addiction to shopping. With this in mind, negative experiences linked to addiction are common, including further mental health conditions, debt, bankruptcy, deterioration of relationships and further addictive tendencies.

In this instance, experts within the world psychiatry industry are aiming for a review of compulsive buying, with the goal to achieve a separate mental health diagnosis. This, in turn, will provide an opportunity to identify successful addiction treatments, used to cure those suffering from an addiction to shopping.


Treatments for compulsive shopping

If you’re currently suffering from a shopping addiction, the lack of support and addiction treatment is highly disheartening to hear. However, there are some self-help tips you can complete, helping control your side effects, up until potential addiction treatment is offered.

Although long-term recovery isn’t fully achievable, with professional support and future treatment options, diminishing an addiction to shopping will be probable.

Here at Rehab Clinics Group, we highly recommend opening up about your compulsive behaviours. Whether that’s to loved ones, or professionals, like our team, this will alleviate some stress.

For many individuals suffering from a compulsive disorder, mental illness will be the driving force. Receiving treatment for mental health conditions will be recommended, helping to reduce pressure on your shopping addiction.

From counselling sessions to cognitive behavioural therapy, psychologically driven treatment options will carry value, helping to unravel the trigger, causing compulsion.

If you’re finding it hard to stop shopping or believe underlying issues are fuelling your compulsive behaviours, it is important that you seek support, before further mental health issues develop.

Source support for either a dual diagnosis or an impulsive control disorder, helping to alleviate some of the symptoms. Here at Rehab Clinics Group, we can help.