Sun. Apr 21st, 2024


We are in sales season, we spend more time at home, and we have our computer or mobile more at hand to buy online. Is a rise in shopping addiction being reported this pandemic? What are the most frequent signs in people who have this addiction?

We interviewed Amalia Juárez Alonso at Infosalus, a general health psychologist and psychotherapist at the Department of Adults, Couples and Family of Psychologists Pozuelo (Madrid), who highlights that, indeed, there is an increase in shopping addiction or "oniomania" during the pandemic, and there are also scientific studies that corroborate this.

As this expert underlines, the habit of buying in excess has become a cause for concern in today's society in relation to the pandemic, as well as other well-known compulsive or addictive disorders, such as substance abuse or gambling addiction. .

Among the symptoms that could lead one to suspect that a person suffers from shopping addiction, Amalia Juárez points to the following:

Buy items that are not needed

·Feeling the need to buy an item when you see an ad or someone has it, without feeling calm or relieved until you buy it; spend more money than one can afford on purchases, mainly on the Internet (since the pandemic began)

· Do not stop thinking about the need to buy something, when time goes by without doing it.

·Use shopping to improve mood or calm anxiety.

·Impossibility or difficulty to save, because of the need to always buy something.

· Difficulty controlling the impulse to buy online.


The general health psychologist points out that the causes of oniomania can be multiple, and can respond to psychological, biological and social factors, both in its development and in its maintenance. "Among the most notable psychological factors are mood, low self-esteem, which can sometimes be used as a strategy to avoid one's own problems . Likewise, there is evidence of the role of the impulsivity trait, fundamentally as a response to mood , be positive to negative", details.

As for biological factors , as he continues, the deficit in the functioning of certain neurotransmitters could explain the existence and maintenance of shopping addiction. Regarding the social factors that can contribute to the development of this disorder, there are both learning by imitation in the family environment, or pressure from friends towards consumption; adds the psychotherapist in the Department of Couples and Family Adults of Pozuelo Psychologists (Madrid).

"In any case, during the pandemic we have been exposed to an overload of advertisements due to the increase in Internet use, and the algorithms of the network itself show us precisely the articles that we like the most," says this expert.


With this, Juárez emphasizes that all the studies carried out show that it is more frequent in women than in men and the age of onset is between 18 and 30 years, tending to become chronic.

Regarding treatment, it aims first of all to understand the disorder within a broader context, in order to carry out an adequate diagnosis: "Cognitive behavioral therapies are the ones that have shown the greatest efficacy, or at least there are more studies in this regard; However, so that the symptoms do not resurface, it would be necessary to identify the situations that make the patient need to buy and work on coping techniques, as well as reinforce self-esteem".

It is also necessary to work on impulse control. "Sometimes psychological therapy is necessary to carry out in combination with pharmacological treatment supervised by a psychiatrist, and group therapy can also help individual therapy," he adds.

In addition, this specialist indicates that there are several factors that make people more prone to shopping addiction: low self-esteem, low self-regulation, negative emotion, enjoyment, female gender, social anonymity and cognitive overload.

There is also comorbidity between shopping addiction and some psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety disorders, mood disorders, substance dependence disorders, eating disorders, and various personality disorders such as obsessive-compulsive , the avoidant and the limit.

"Likewise, there is evidence that there is an increased risk of developing shopping addiction in those with a family history of anxiety disorders, mood disorders and substance abuse," he says.

Ultimately, this psychologist warns the population about the ease of falling into shopping addiction, due to the immediacy that the Internet provides us, as well as the algorithms that show us what we like, so before make purchases should follow some very simple guidelines:

Make a list of the things you really need.

Have a budget for expenses and do not exceed it.

When you find an advertisement for something that catches your attention, do not buy immediately , but analyze if you need it and if so, do a search comparing prices and qualities, without letting yourself be carried away by impulse.

Be careful with offers such as Black Friday , sales, etc. and carefully analyze whether we need something or not.

Consult a Mental Health specialist if we see that we cannot control the impulse to buy or that we feel anxiety if we do not.