Shopaholism or oniomania – to treat or not to treat, that is the question

Shopaholism, or Diogenes syndrome - causes of illness and treatment Today this is not a rare occurrence. Shopaholism, or oniomania, is a disorder that many people (mostly women) face. This is an uncontrollable urge to make purchases.

The content of the article:

  1. What is shopaholism
  2. Oniomania symptoms
  3. Reasons for shopaholism
  4. Consequences of oniomania
  5. Who to contact and how to treat
  6. How to avoid: cost control
  7. conclusions

What is shopaholism

What is shopaholism – background

The painful urge to shop is medically and psychologically called “oniomania”, in the media, the corresponding term is more common “Shopaholism”

Pathological shopping is characterized by an urge, a strong desire to make purchases at regular intervals: there are breaks of several days, weeks or even longer between separate “forays” to shops.

Such uncontrolled purchases often lead to financial problems, debts… The pathological shopper visits stores, not knowing what he wants to buy, whether he needs what he is buying. He loses the ability to think rationally, meaningfully.

The purchased item first causes satisfaction, calmness, then – anxiety… The person begins to feel guilt, anger, sadness, apathy. Shopaholics keep the purchased goods, hide them “in the corners”, because they do not need them.

Diogenes syndrome develops – a disorder characterized by a number of signs, including:

  • Extreme inattention to oneself.
  • Pathological violation of everyday activities (dirty house, disorder).
  • Social isolation.
  • Apathy.
  • Compulsive accumulation (of things, animals).
  • Lack of respect for the attitude of others.

The disorder can also include symptoms of catatonia. Basically, the essence of the syndrome (also known as Plyushkin syndrome) is obsessive compulsive disorder

Oniomania symptoms

Many shopping mall visitors do not want to spend a lot of money on shopping. But marketers are well aware of their psychology, have many tricks, ways to get their attention (eg, by “correct” placement of goods, large carts, price bombs, etc.).

“To live is to do things, not to acquire them.”


Although the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) does not have a separate diagnostic category for shopaholism (oniomania), this does not reduce the severity of the disease. In contrast to pathological addiction to psychoactive substances, this is behavioral addiction.

Shopaholism shares some common features with other addictive diseases (in particular, impaired self-control). Therefore, work on strengthening volitional qualities is one of the steps in the comprehensive treatment of a person suffering from a tendency to uncontrolled purchases.

Oniomania symptoms – how to see the line where shopping ends and shopaholism begins

The desire for shopping, the desire for a certain thing, is typical of all impulsive disorders. Unfortunately, part of the process is the phase of doubt and remorse. A shopaholic regrets that he spent money on this item, reproaches himself for a rash purchase, etc.

Warning signs of the onset of the disorder:

  • Thorough, even exaggerated shopping preparation (the person worries about the “fit” for shopping).
  • Obsession with discounts, sales.
  • The appearance of a feeling of disappointment, remorse for the money spent after the initial euphoria.
  • Shopping is accompanied by joy, excitement, not unlike sexual.
  • Unscheduled purchases, i.e. the purchase of unnecessary things that are not included in the budget (often there is not enough money for them).
  • Lack of storage space for purchased items.
  • Finding a reason for shopping (holiday, mood improvement, etc.).

A serious symptom of a disorder is lying to a partner or family about recently purchased items, hiding purchases, or destroying other evidence of shopping.

Reasons for shopaholism

Reasons for shopaholism – why people are prone to unnecessary hoarding

Psychologists are considering several factors that can increase the susceptibility to pathological hoarding. The big contradiction between the real and the desired perception of the person of himself is taken into account (the contradiction between the real and the ideal).

For example, young men with low self-esteem, not confident in their role as men, can compensate for these shortcomings by unnecessarily acquiring male items – weapons, sports equipment, electronics, etc. In this case, we are talking about strengthening low self-esteem with the help of material things. Women also spend the most on items related to their self-esteem – clothing, fashion accessories, cosmetics, jewelry.

“Where is the“ G ”point of the woman? Probably somewhere at the end of the word “shopping”.

David Ogilvy

It is also interesting to note that the trend towards these problems is clearly seasonal in nature – it is most pronounced in winter.

Consequences of oniomania

The consequences of oniomania are serious!

One of the main pitfalls of shopaholism is borrowing… Borrowers often don’t realize that this behavior is very risky; they are simply merging into the debt spiral of repetitive borrowing. Today, there are many options for lending, even without proof of income. Because of this, many people find themselves in a situation where they cannot repay loans.

Over time, other psychological problems arise, such as excessive anxiety, stress, feelings of loneliness, sadness, anger, discontent, depression, underestimation of the environment. These, in turn, can increase the addiction to shopping.

Partnership or family disagreements are also common.

Which specialist to contact with Plyushkin's syndrome

Which specialist to contact with Plyushkin’s syndrome – treatment of oniomania

Impulse shopping, as already mentioned, belongs to a group of behavioral disorders like overeating, gambling addiction, kleptomania, etc. Constant situations when a person cannot cope with addiction bring many personal, social, financial, and other difficulties.

In this case, it is appropriate to seek professional help – to a psychologist, psychotherapist or psychiatrist. Combination drug treatmentfacilitating behavioral disorders (anxiety, depression, etc.), with psychotherapy is an effective tool for the treatment of impulsive disorders, which include oniomania.

But drugs alone do not cure shopaholism. They can be effective help in the treatment of pathological addiction, but only in combination with psychotherapy… With appropriate treatment, it is usually possible to achieve positive results, to reduce the risk of relapse.

Treatment of behavioral pathology, as in the case of other addictions, involves the identification of triggers of addictive behavior, the search for ways to interrupt the train of thought, behavior, emotions leading to it.

There are different self-control methods… It’s important to focus on building your self-confidence. The mainstay of treatment is long-term psychotherapy in which the patient re-learns how to handle money, gradually putting himself at risk (eg by visiting shopping malls) until he has full confidence in effective self-control.

It is also important to create a realistic debt repayment schedule, a rational approach to solving financial problems, exploring different ways to manage stress, anxiety through relaxation techniques, etc.

Addiction to purchases, like other pathological addictions, can be associated with feelings of guilt and shame. It is important that a person suffering from this disorder has the opportunity to talk about their problems, find understanding, support, and receive advice on how to overcome difficulties.

“If the wife is a shopaholic, then the husband is a holo-lover!”

Boris Shapiro

Avoiding Shopaholism: Controlling Your Expenses

Avoiding Shopaholism: Controlling Your Expenses

If you want to keep your distance and not fall into the trap of shopping addiction, follow these simple tips. They will help you avoid the problems associated with this addiction.

Buy only what finances allow

When buying, always consider whether you have enough money. Resist the temptation of exclusive purchases, take into account the lifespan of the product, its need.

Go to the store with a list

Before going to the store, make a list of what you really need, follow it.

In a store, a person is often under pressure from ubiquitous advertisements and promotional offers. Ultimately, this leads to rash spending, the purchase of unnecessary goods.

Don’t stay in the store longer than necessary

The longer a person is in a store, the more motivated they are to make purchases.

Set aside a short period of time to get the items you want, don’t extend it.

Think twice before buying

While shopping, remember the famous proverb: “Measure seven times, cut once.”

Do not give in to momentary impulses, impressions. Especially if the product in question is more expensive, consider purchasing it before the next day.

Go to the store with cash, with the exact amount separated

Instead of a credit card, take the amount of cash you plan to spend with you.


For people suffering from shopaholism, shopping brings psychological relief. Shopping is a drug for them; they have a strong desire, a craving for it. In the event of obstacles, anxiety and other unpleasant psychological manifestations arise. The purchased goods are often not needed at all, they are unlikely to ever be used.

The consequences of this behavior are enormous. In addition to the deepening of debts, it brings the destruction of family and other interpersonal relationships, the emergence of anxiety, depression, problems at work, and other life complications.

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