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Is My Teen Addicted to Shopping?


It seems like your teen is always shopping. At the mall or the outlets, alone or with friends, whether there’s a big sale going on or not. They come home with myriad purchases that seem unnecessary and trivial. Worst of all, they never use the things they buy or get any satisfaction out of them, and the shopping never stops.

Simply put, you think your teen is addicted to retail therapy.

Is Shopping Addiction a Real Thing?


Shopping addiction is also known as compulsive buying disorder or oniomania.

Compulsive buying disorder often co-occurs with other mental health issues like substance abuse (drug addiction), depression, anxiety, eating disorders, or other emotional or behavioral problems. Like all these other behavioral disorders, compulsive buying disorder involves problems with impulse control.

Unfortunately, contemporary advertising and marketing efforts exacerbate the problem. Huge billboards promise bliss to consumers who buy certain products. Million-dollar advertising campaigns lure teens towards specific brands of clothing or shoes. Sleek marketing professionals conduct focus groups and qualitative studies to get inside the mind of a typical teen and learn how to target their product to them most effectively. All of this contributes to over-the-top consumerism, which can easily lead to shopping addiction.

Only a mental health professional can determine whether your teen has compulsive buying disorder. However, here’s a list of things that may that indicate your adolescent may need help with their shopping habits.

Seven Signs of Shopping Addiction

  1. Their shopping causes problems with family, friends, and other relationships
  2. Their shopping interferes with school or other important commitments. For example, they may skip school or family events to go to the mall.
  3. Your teen spends money excessively, which causes significant financial issues. The max out credit cards or constantly ask for money. Some teens steal money to keep shopping: it can be that disruptive.
  4. They shop to deal with stress and/or other negative emotions/situations, such as problems at school or home, or a depressive episode.
  5. Shopping brings them a temporary euphoric feeling or high, which slowly turns to guilt/regret afterward.
  6. Their purchases often seem unnecessary because they never use or wear the things they buy.
  7. They cannot stop shopping, no matter how hard you try to get them to.

If you answer yes to any of the questions above, your teen may have a shopping addiction or another mental health disorder like depression or anxiety. Often, compulsive buying disorder, like other addictions, develop as coping mechanisms to process internal pain caused by low self-esteem, loneliness, codependency, trouble at school, or conflict with family. In the case of compulsive buying disorder, a.k.a. shopping addiction, shopping becomes a way to escape from these emotional or mental health issues.

Treatment for Addiction

The best option for managing the symptoms of addiction is professional treatment. A licensed psychiatrist or therapist can help discover the root of the problem behavior, and teach your teen strategies for managing their disorder. To get started, schedule a clinical assessment at a professional teen mental health or dual diagnosis treatment center for adolescents.

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