Shopping Addiction

By: Deanna Damaso

Shopping Addiction is a behavioral addiction where a person buys items compulsively or a specific item repeatedly as an attempt to relieve stress. Those suffering with a shopping addiction spend more time shopping than doing other activities because of their uncontrollable urges to spend money.

The joy of shopping has a direct effect on the brain’s pleasure centers by flooding the brain with endorphins and dopamine. The buyer gets a short-lived “shopping high” from making frequent shopping trips, buying large items, or expensive purchases. However, after a couple hours, the dopamine recedes and the shopper is left with an empty, unsatisfied feeling. This can lead to hoarding, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. If left untreated, compulsive buyers could go deeper into debt and turn to stealing.

Some signs of a shopping addiction often include:

  • Spending more money than anticipated
  • Compulsive purchases
  • Chronic spending when angry, anxious, or depressed
  • Lying about the problem
  • Broken relationships
  • Ignoring the consequences of spending money

Financial therapy is effective in teaching how to manage finances and shop more responsibly. Cognitive and behavioral therapies are effective treatments that identify and improve the negative thoughts and behaviors surrounding the addiction. Medications can be prescribed to those who struggle with both the addiction and other mental health issues. This combination treatment helps relieve symptoms to assist in recovery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a shopping addiction, Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact us in Paramus, NJ at 201-368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY at 212-996-3939 to arrange an appointment. For more information about our services, please visit




By: Dianna Gomez

It is more often than not assumed that a person addicted to a substance, whether it be drugs or alcohol, is someone with shallow morals, little motivation, and that if he or she really wanted to, they could simply stop using at any moment. These assumptions show how extremely misunderstood addiction is by our general public, as well as how infrequently this topic is discussed among us. Addiction is a chronic disease that affects a person’s brain chemistry, thoughts, and behaviors. An individual can initially fall into addiction through voluntarily substance use or through necessary use of prescription medication prescribed by a doctor (ex: pain medication for after a surgery). When addiction first begins, the substance affects the reward circuits in the brain which causes feelings of complete euphoria. If a person continues to use the substance, the brain adjusts itself and develops a “tolerance” for it, which causes the individual to not feel the effects of the drug as intensely as they did the first time the drug was taken. This requires the person to have to use a larger quantity of the substance in order to reach the same level of “high” they did before. There are many different ways an individual can naturally be more vulnerable to addiction throughout their lifetime. Two of these main ways include biology and environment.

Biology: the genetics a person is born with can affect up to 50% of their risk for becoming addicted to a substance. This includes factors such as gender, ethnicity, and an individual’s family mental health history.

Environment: the conditions in which an individual is brought up in such as their economic status, family/friends, and quality of life in general also plays a huge role in their vulnerability for addiction. Peer pressure, lack of parental guidance, traumatic experiences with abuse (physical, emotional, sexual) are a few examples of common environmental influences.

If either you or anybody you know suffers from substance abuse or addiction, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can help you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit us at


Shopping Addiction (Yes, it’s Real)


Sonya Cheema

We are becoming more materialistic than ever now that we’re able to see the daily activities of rich people on social media every day – Kim Kardashian using a skincare regimen that costs more than your rent, Jeffree Star custom painting his Rolls Royce pink, various Instagram-famous models advertising their “favorite” detox tea, etc. It’s no wonder why we always feel the need to buy whatever’s new and trending. Getting caught up in the trends may be fun, but it could also lead to an overload of items you don’t need, debt you can’t repay, and guilt. Shopping addiction is real and should be brought to everyone’s attention, especially now.

Shopping addiction, or shopoholism, is just like any other addiction. The more you buy, the better you feel. Individuals suffering from this will get a “high” when they shop, meaning their endorphins and dopamine are activated, which reinforces their shopping problem. Some signs that a person may be addicted to shopping are:

  • Shopping to ease anxiety, depression, or other negative feelings/emotions
  • Engaging arguments with others about spending
  • Feeling lost without credit cards and/or having withdrawal symptoms without them
  • Purchasing items through credit instead of cash
  • Getting a high after spending money
  • Feeling guilty, ashamed, or embarrassed after spending
  • Lying about how much money was spent
  • Thinking obsessively about money
  • Trying to juggle different accounts and bills to accommodate for more spending

If you recognize a shopping addiction within yourself or someone else, it may be best to seek therapy for yourself or the person, have an intervention for the person, or look up the nearest Debtors Anonymous meeting for additional support.

Some suggestions for what to do in the meantime are to get rid of checkbooks and credit cards, shop with someone else, and find other meaningful ways to spend your time. While these suggestions are crucial to recovery, seeking professional help and receiving therapy may be more beneficial.

If you or a person you know is struggling with shopping addiction, it may be beneficial to contact a mental health professional and receive therapy. The psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help. Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920. Visit for more information.


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