Female Shopaholism: Where does the Passion for Shopping Come From and How do you Get Rid of it?

Nov 11, 2019


Pavel Khoroschutin

Shopping is as natural and necessary as sleep. But what if “banal” shopping becomes a goal in itself? In psychology, this type of addiction is officially called shopping addiction. Everyone can become a shopaholic regardless of their financial situation – whether it is a millionaire buying another yacht, or a middle manager spending the last of her money in a shopping mall. In the following article, we will touch upon the topic of women’s addiction to shopping, since it is believed that it is women who are more inclined to make spontaneous purchases.

Who is at risk: men or women?

Shopaholic women are constantly portrayed in movies and talk shows and ridiculed in anecdotes. The fact that women are more likely to spend money is also confirmed by studies conducted in the early 2000s in the UK, which showed that 90% of identified shopaholics were women. Nevertheless, there should be a clarification. Sociologists collected data from respondents over 80% of whom were ladies. Unsurprisingly, the survey showed corresponding results. [1]

Now experts have a completely different view of the situation. In 2006, a team of American scientists led by Lorrin Koran, an eminent psychiatrist at Stanford University in California, concluded that 6% of women and 5.5% of men were affected by shopping addiction. [2] About 2,500 respondents were interviewed, including an equal number from both sexes. Experts have thus concluded that gender is not the main criterion in identifying potential shopaholics.


Of relevance is the fact that men rarely seek help from specialists to get rid of psychological addictions. This is the result of stereotypes imposed on them – a man should be able to fight his weaknesses. That is why most of the detected cases of shopaholism are in women.

Female shopaholism and its causes

It is generally believed that the shopping malls, “waiting” for us on every corner, a rising popularity of online shopping and the abundance of attractive advertising, combine to cause a passion for shopping. But psychologists believe that these are only secondary factors. The mere presence of a store nearby cannot turn a sober-minded person into a shopaholic. The problem goes much deeper.

To a large extent, women’s passion for shopping is caused by psychological reasons:

1.               Loneliness.  Shopaholics try to compensate for a lack of attention and love with numerous purchases. They mistakenly think that closets full of things will close this void in the soul.

2.                 Low self-esteem. For introverted and unconfident people, purchases become a specific way to prove their worth to the whole world. When buying something, often popular or branded, a person feels more significant.

3.                 Lack of pleasure. When making a purchase, a person experiences happiness. For those who find their own lives gray and bleak, shopping becomes almost the only source of joy, and buying is perceived as a special event.

4.                 Depression. This reason is related to the previous one. If the purchase is a source of joy, shopping accordingly boosts the spirits. When buying something you like, adrenaline and endorphins are released into the bloodstream, this consequently provides an emotional uplift. But over time, this way of drowning out depression can turn into a serious addiction. Each time the shopaholic needs to buy more and more to be happy. [3]


According to psychologists, one of the main prerequisites for the development of shopping addiction is a deprived childhood. People whose parents saved on everything and could not afford special treats often become shopaholics. After growing up and gaining the ability to manage money on their own, such people turn to the other extreme and begin buying everything and anything, whether necessary or not. This is their way of self-assertion. [3]

What does shopaholism lead to?

When shopping becomes something vital for a woman, her ability to think intelligently and in a rational manner decreases. At the same time, the stress in the area of the brain which controls emotions and pleasant sensations increases significantly. This is where the euphoria comes from, when making a purchase. But after acquiring an amalgamation of unnecessary things, repentance and acute regret ensue. The accumulated stress requires a portion of pleasant emotions again, and woman goes to the sale once more. This is a vicious circle which is extremely difficult to break. Hence comes the main negative consequence of addiction to shopping – an addict ceases to control themselves. For them shopping becomes a lifestyle that replaces leisure and entertainment. [1]

If the shopaholic does not have the opportunity to make a purchase, he/she falls into a depressive state, characterized mainly by apathy. This is when everything loses its meaning and nothing is interesting. These are manifestations of a withdrawal syndrome. This is the reason that shopaholism can be compared to other types of addictions. [1]

The passion for shopping strongly hits the wallet. Shopaholics do not think about how to live until the next salary, they are ready to spend the last of their cash to buy the desired thing, even if its price is unreasonably high. Often, they take loans and, in neglected cases — fall under an unmanageable debt burden.


Sooner or later, a shopaholic starts having conflicts with loved ones due to the irrational spending. He/she begins to lie about the money spent and purchases made, hides the goods, and sometimes becomes completely self-isolated. It’s hard to live with a person who has lost control of themselves. Often addicts are left alone with their problem because loved ones have not been able to help them.

How to get rid of the habit of buying unnecessary things: a five-step plan

Occasional or periodic “raids” several times a year to your favorite store is not a cause for alarm. You should start worrying when shopping becomes a part of your value system, pushing out other important aspects. An obsessive desire to buy something, the constant search for reasons to visit the store, the purchase of unnecessary things, inappropriate spending, cabinets in the house clogged with goods – these are serious reasons to think about whether a person suffers from addiction.

What should a woman do if she buys unneeded things and all kinds of trinkets all the time? Psychologists give the following recommendations:

1. Find the cause of addiction

First of all, you need to find the “trigger” that demands constant shopping. Try to analyze what motivates the person and what emotions they experience during shopping. Is it boredom, a compensation reaction, an attempt to lighten a bout of depression, or maybe a method of self-assertion? [4]

2.  Learn to make smart purchases.

You will have to take a fresh look at your “style” of shopping. An “experienced” shopaholic will have a hard time, but it’s extremely important to try to change your habits.

The rules of deliberate shopping are simple, but shopaholics will find it difficult to keep them. Go to the store only with a list, take a small amount of money with you and ignore stocks and sales.

3.  Get support from a loved one

For a shopaholic who is on the road to fixing things it will be extremely difficult to control his/her desires at first. Therefore, the help, support and understanding of loved ones are vital. It’s important not to slap a shopaholic on the wrists, but to carefully encourage controlling behavior and budget, and switch attention from purchasing to other things. An addicted person should abandon shopping trips altogether for a period of time. [4]

4.  Find an alternative to shopping

Fighting shopaholism will be easier if you find an alternative  — ideally an activity that will cause positive emotions. It can be anything — hobbies, sports activities or going dancing.

5.  Getting rid of the shopping habit with the help of a psychologist

If you can’t cope with the problem yourself, pay attention to special behavior modification courses. An addiction to spontaneous purchases is an unhealthy behavior model that can be adjusted. The 7Spsy Behavior Modification Technique  shows excellent results in this area. This is a patented behavior psychology method based on the theories of I.P. Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, A.A. Ukhtomsky, and others.

Self-training and systemic work on the course with a psychologist will help you to change the pathological pattern of behavior and defeat shopaholism. This is the beginning of a new life without the constant desire to go to the store and waste all your money. A positive mindset, which you will learn at the training, will help you to realize that aimless shopping is one of the most negative ways to make yourself feel better and assert yourself in society.

The 7Spsy Behavior Modification Technique is designed for up to 6 weeks. Classes are held remotely. The psychologist will answer all questions and work with you daily via phone or online chat. Participation in the training is strictly confidential.


Shopaholism is an addiction that does not directly harm human health but is the result of deep psychological problems that need to be addressed immediately. Life without this addiction will give you freedom.

Information from this website cannot be used for self-therapy and self-diagnostics. 

Institute of Distance Psychology Pte .Ltd UEN 201834385M 4 Battery Road, #25-01 Bank of Chaina Building Singapore 049908.

LLC Tekhnologii Ideala, Center for Research Psychology 

TIN 5406976032 / PSRN 1175476058801

+7 (800) 550-99-36

+7 (658) -671-95-25