Compulsive Shopping Is An Obsessive Behaviour

Compulsive Shopping Is An Obsessive Behaviour

















Officially known as Oniomania.
Definition: Compulsive buying disorder (CBD), or oniomania (from Greek ὤνιος ṓnios ‘for sale’ and μανία manía ‘insanity’).

We probably all know someone that we’d consider to be a ‘shopaholic’.

However, this term is used loosely, and for some people, their shopping habits can become a more serious and debilitating problem. ‘

The real term for this is Oniomania, also known as Compulsive Buying Disorder (CBD) is a behavioural disorder characterised by an obsession with spending money and an insatiable urge to buy things, typically resulting in adverse consequences.

While the disorder is often overlooked, it can leave people in financial chaos – a similar outcome to more widely recognised addictions, such as problem gambling.

London-based therapist and author Sally Baker explained that though people have been affected by it for a long time, as retail patterns are changing so are the behaviours of those with oniomania.

‘Oniomania is the uncontrollable desire to go shopping and make purchases,’ she said.

‘Historically, this happened in high street shops; however, it is increasingly present as online shopping, including eBay and other auction style bidding sites.’ Baker explained that the disorder is most commonly seen in women and that it’s a growing problem, though it’s hard to obtain accurate figures as people are often reluctant to accept that it may be a problem.

‘Oniomania is often a well-kept secret with complex strategies used to hide the results of excessive shopping, and the inevitable increased level of debt.

‘Often, the extent of a person’s problem only comes to light when their accumulated debt is no longer manageable, or their excessive purchases are discovered.’

I asked Ms Baker at what point excessive spending becomes a problem and goes beyond just being a ‘shopaholic’. ‘Shopaholics enjoy the process of shopping, and if they occasionally spend more than planned, they are able to control their shopping to a greater or lesser extent. ‘Even if they do purchase something unnecessary they are able to behave rationally by budgeting their other spending or return items for a refund.

‘The situation with compulsive shoppers is very different. Compulsive shoppers experience a series of uncomfortable emotions, including heightened anxiety and depression. Shopping has become their strategy to effectively release the uncomfortable emotions they feel without considering the possible negative results.’

‘It’s common for people with oniomania to experience emotional disassociation so that it can feel as if they are in a zoned-out, trance-like state, or they may experience a state of hyper-arousal with increased heart rate, dilated pupils and changes in their rate of breathing.’

Spending temporarily relieves anxiety symptoms, but they soon build again, so the cycle repeats and many feel shame and guilt afterwards.

‘They feel disproportionally negative about themselves and have little or no self-esteem or sense of self-worth,’ said Baker.
In the most serious cases, oniomania can affect every aspect of a person’s life and have seriously damaging consequences.

I spoke to Sophie*, a 26-year-old PR from Leeds about her experiences. Sophie explained that her problems started in childhood but have gradually worsened and reached a peak in February this year.

















‘I had lots of outgoing payments as I was moving flats and organising something special for my boyfriend’s birthday, but still [spent excessively],’ she said.

‘Over the years, I have slowly eaten into £10,000 of savings because of my spending, and by February I had very little of it left.’

‘I got very close to having no money to live on (even with my salary) and was scraping change together to get by day to day.’

Sophie regularly spends up to 25 hours a week buying things online. ‘It’s time-consuming,’ she said. ‘I make orders every couple of days, and I’m so much less social than before.’

The stress and shame of her behaviour mean she employs various techniques to disguise the problem, from choosing click and collect options to avoid deliveries going to her work and not having a bank card ‘though I know my bank card details off by heart.’

Oniomania has also impacted her relationships: ‘My boyfriend regularly complains that I don’t pay attention. I’m constantly scrolling through shopping apps on my phone, and he regularly must deal with me being angry or crying.’

‘I dread to think about how much I have spent over my lifetime.’

Interrupting the pattern Baker explained that the longer the problem goes unrecognised and untreated, the more it can spiral out of control, and the more severe the consequences can become.

















But there is treatment available, and talking therapies are the most recommended. ‘The compulsion to shop is a learnt strategy to cope with anxiety and depression. Therefore it is important in the therapy work to resolve the triggers that result in this compulsion.

‘This can be achieved by exploring events or memories around the first time shopping was used to self-comfort. ‘It is also important to release and resolve the symptoms of compulsive behaviour so that a person can identify what it is, and interrupt the pattern before it builds into something overwhelming.’

If you recognise yourself in this post and feel you need help to transform your relationship with your excessive shopping, then book an obligation free discovery call with me. The link is on this page.

Reprinted here. Written by journalist Bethany Smith originally for The Metro Newspaper.
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If you want to lead a happier more fulfilled life it’s almost impossible when you’re doubting yourself or sabotaging your chances of success. Therapy isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ‘tried everything’ it could be just what you need. You can book an obligation-free 30-minute discovery call to find out for yourself.


How To Stop Spending Money Online

How To Stop Spending Money Online




Do you spend more money than you intend to when you browse the net and get drawn into scrolling through the pages of e-commerce sites?

The questions below are designed to give you some insight to see if you have a compulsive shopping problem or not and to offer you some guidance on how you can take back control from any addictive behaviour you may have.

Remember whatever you spend is relevant to your circumstances. You might think you’re not spending very much at all compared to your friends or people you know but if you’re buying champagne on a ‘Mild and Bitter Beer’ income then it won’t long before you fall into debt.

1. Do you shop online when you’re feeling bored, sad, lonely, angry or frustrated?

2. Do you scroll endlessly through shopping sites for hours at a time or shop late at night or even when you’re in bed?

3. Do you shop online in secret and work hard to hide what you buy from friends or family?

4. Do you spend more than you can afford online and worry about running out of money or paying your regular bills?

5. Does buying something make you feel less overwhelmed or anxious so that momentarily you feel better either physically or emotionally only for your ‘feel-good’ moment to quickly flip into feelings of remorse or shame?

6. Do you sometimes forget what you’ve bought online and make duplicate purchases or purchase unsuitable items only to hide them away without taking them out of their packaging?

7. Do you lie about how much money you spend or how many items you buy from the big online corporations?

How many times did you answer ‘Yes’ to these questions?

Depending on whether you recognise yourself doing these things rarely or regularly determines if your shopping online is either on its way to possibly being a problem or is perhaps a problem already.

Gaining awareness of what triggers your addictive online shopping is the first step to breaking the hold these compulsive habits have had over you.

Be a detective and begin to notice the feelings you have that accompany your compulsive need to shop. For some people, shopping is a distraction strategy they have developed instead of dealing with their real feelings. So what feelings are busy distracting yourself from by shopping?

How to take back control of your spending

You can intervene in your addictive shopping behaviour to help break your habits by putting your smartphone away or moving away from your computer screen during the times of the day or night when you would usually be tempted to shop.

Also, clear your credit or debit card numbers and log out of any shortcuts you’ve signed up for that make it easier for you to go straight to the shopping cart. The more you have to do actively participate in the purchasing process the more chance you’re giving yourself to change your mind.

By no longer using distracting strategies like compulsive shopping you can become more aware of the uncomfortable feelings you’ve been trying to avoid. These feelings can be compounded as when you’re caught up in a compulsion to shop your breathing can become more shallow or restricted. To help yourself feel grounded and calmer take some slow, regular deep breaths.

The stresses of modern living can make many some people hungry for human connection, and anonymous online transactions don’t feed your soul, so its time to try new ways to connect.

So instead of trading your authentic feelings for a one-click moment go for a walk; meet up with a friend; visit a local coffee shop, or shop local in real stores. There are independent businesses near where you live and work who will always be glad you came and will be more than happy to take a few moments to connect with you. The more you shop at local independent stores, the more you’ll feel connected, and the more hollow the online shopping experience will feel.

Psychologists recognise it takes 21 days to embed a new habit so focus your efforts on changing your behaviour to achieve different results. In as little as three weeks you could be feeling less driven by a compulsive need to shop with big corporations and more connected through the human interactions in your local stores.

It is important to realise that like any other addiction; genuine compulsive online shopping is a disease. Specialist therapy focuses on resolving and ending your addictive behaviour.

If this resonates with you and your compulsion to shop feels overwhelming, you too might need support to help you to stop and free yourself from this obsessive behaviour. Feel free to reach out and book an obligation free discovery call with me. The link is on this page.

Note: If compulsive shopping has led you to money and debt worries then seek help. In the United Kingdom go to or call them for free debt advice on 0808 808 4000.

Wherever you are in the world there will be a debt advice service you can access.

If you want to lead a happier more fulfilled life it’s almost impossible when you’re doubting yourself or sabotaging your chances of success. Therapy isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ‘tried everything’ it could be just what you need. You can book an obligation-free 30-minute discovery call to find out for yourself.