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Shopping addiction (oniomania) treatment and help at Priory

Shopping addiction, which is also known as 'compulsive shopping disorder' or 'oniomania', is a socially and financially damaging psychological condition. Treatment for patients who seek help for their spending addiction from Priory includes the identification of any deeper psychological problems that may be affecting a person, and subsequent treatment with therapy and medication.

Signs and symptoms of a shopping addiction

Priory can help with the identification of shopping addiction and compulsive spending symptoms. 

These can include financial problems as a result of spending beyond your means (with this spending hidden from friends and family), feelings of guilt associated with purchases and strain on relationships with loved ones.

Other signs and symptoms can include:

  • Shopping either in person or online, as a way to deal with stress, pressure or other negative experiences in your life, with your mood improving as a result - albeit into a temporary euphoria
  • Frequently exceeding budgets when shopping
  • Often shopping impulsively, not because you need or want certain items, but simply because you feel an overwhelming compulsion to do so
  • Experiencing a sense of shame or guilt about how much you have spent or how many items you have purchased
  • Hiding or throwing away items that you have purchased as a way of concealing your shopping from friends or family members
  • Continuing to shop even when you know that it is financially unwise for you to do so
  • Trying but failing to limit the frequency of your shopping trips or the amount of money that you spend
  • Experiencing financial problems or conflict with friends and family members as a result of your spending

Shopping addiction and mental health

Compulsive shopping is linked to many other psychiatric conditions including:

Causes of shopping addiction

As with other addictive behaviours, the causes of compulsive shopping can be treated successfully and it should therefore be treated as an addiction like any other.

Biological factors

From a biological perspective, several studies have explored how the brains of sex addicts and gambling addicts react to stimuli that are associated with those behavioural compulsions. The results of these studies suggest that certain behaviours trigger the brains of some people in a similar manner to how alcohol and other drugs prompt changes in the brains of drug addicts.

Extending these findings to shopping addiction, this means shopping may trigger a chemical reaction in your brain similar to what alcoholics or heroin addicts experience when they misuse the drugs that they have become addicted to.

Environmental factors

From an environmental perspective, experts also believe that compulsive shopping may be a maladaptive means of dealing with stress or attempting to numb oneself to psychological pain related to past trauma. Again, this is similar to the experience that leads many people into substance misuse and subsequently to addiction. However, instead of alcohol, cocaine or another drug, you are turning to compulsive spending as a means of relief.

The impact of shopping addiction on the sufferer’s quality of life should not be underestimated. The availability of access to the internet, and the greater trust in internet security for money transfer means that many more people who are in search of a bargain can end up in debt. Online stores such as eBay and Amazon are a huge temptation due to their vast product ranges, encouraging us to purchase things that we don't need, which can lead to a spending addiction.

How is compulsive shopping treated at Priory?

Priory has treatment centres located across the UK where you can seek help for shopping addiction.

Our experts can assess your current shopping habits in the context of a global assessment of mental health. We can accurately identify any underlying psychological problems, and offer shopping addiction treatment with a combination of psychology, therapy and medication if required. The most important step is seeking initial shopping addiction help. 

The type and length of shopping addiction treatment is dependent on the individual's circumstances and the severity of the condition. Some people are treated as outpatients, which means that they attend Priory for hourly sessions with their consultant, psychologist or therapist. Others require a more structured treatment approach which can include staying as an inpatient at one of our Priory hospitals for the duration of their treatment where they take part in the psychological group programme as well as regular sessions with their consultant. Take a look at all of the specific therapy treatment services that we offer for shopping addiction.

Take our free initial addiction assessment

We understand that embarking upon shopping addiction help can be an emotionally turbulent time for you. With this in mind, Priory offers a free initial assessment with an experienced therapist at all of our addiction treatment hospitals and clinics to help you to discuss your addiction in confidence.

For further details on how Priory can provide you with further assistance regarding Shopping addiction (oniomania) treatment and help at Priory, please call 0800 840 3219. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here