Can you be addicted to shopping

Shopping addiction

In the case of shopping addiction, the focus is not on the items purchased, but on the act of buying. In many cases, those affected also suffer from depression, other addictions (e.g. gambling addiction, internet addiction or alcohol addiction), from a personality disorder or from an obligation to collect (compulsive hoarding). With internet addiction in particular, there is often a connection with shopping addiction due to the many buying opportunities on the internet.

In the ICD-10, shopping addiction is classified under “(unspecified) impulse control disorder”. In order to determine shopping addiction as such, a detailed anamnesis is required (e.g. with a psychiatrist). In addition, specific questionnaires can be used (e.g. "Screening procedures to determine compensatory or addictive purchasing behavior / SKSK") - for example as part of a clinical-psychological diagnosis. The SKSK describes addictive and compensatory buying behavior and measures the extent of the tendency or risk of shopping addiction.

Diagnostic criteria

The following criteria must be met in order to be able to speak of shopping addiction:

  • Your own buying behavior creates stress and takes a lot of time. Social and professional relationships also suffer. There are financial problems or the items purchased pile up and take up living space to a large extent, for example.
  • Excessive buying does not occur in the context of mania or hypomania.
  • In addition, at least one of the following must apply to maladjustment regarding consumption:
    • Frequent and intense preoccupation with buying or buying impulses that inevitably impose themselves and actually seem pointless.
    • Frequent buying (of things that are not needed) beyond the available financial means and for a longer period of time than actually planned.

The self-regulatory ability of those affected is impaired, and self-control with regard to buying is no longer possible. If you try not to buy, you will experience withdrawal symptoms, e.g. inner restlessness, concentration problems or irritability. The sense of reality can also differ. Most of those affected buy to deal with problems or to alleviate feelings of anxiety or depression. Shortly after the purchase, shopaholics feel exuberantly good, but the mood quickly falls. Dejection, disappointment or a guilty conscience are typical feelings that return after excessive buying.

Differentiation from compensatory buying behavior

So-called compensatory buying behavior must be distinguished from shopping addiction. This is a risk factor for developing shopping addiction. It is characterized by:

  • Postponing (but ultimately solving) problems

  • occasional buying for relaxation and reward

  • at times partial loss of control when shopping

  • Objects have a high symbolic value

  • Shopping is a popular hobby