Are You a Shopaholic? Breaking Down Impulse Control Disorder

This post was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.

Most of us have felt the pleasure that accompanies a purchase. Whether it’s a golf club, concert tickets, a hotel reservation, or a new article of clothing, buying stuff can give us a genuine rush of happiness.

The only problem is that shopping can become quite addictive, and since it involves spending money, this habit could end up putting serious strain on your financial health—and, by extension, your mental health.

So, are you a shopaholic? Read on to learn more about an addiction to shopping and how it relates to impulse control disorder. 

What is an Impulse Control Disorder?

According to the American Addiction Centers website, a person with an impulse control disorder will have trouble controlling their emotions or behaviors. Some examples, besides shopping addiction, may include kleptomania, pyromania, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder.

As you can see from these examples, an impulse control disorder will often end up negatively affecting the person with the disorder as well as the people around them. 

Fortunately, we have a better understanding about impulse control disorders today than we did in the past, and the internet is full of helpful advice on the topic:

Shopping Addiction

If you feel like you can’t control your shopping sprees, then you may be facing an impulse control disorder yourself. In this case, it would be “compulsive buying disorder.” 

But how do we tell the difference between casual shopping and a full-blown addiction that may have underpinnings in an impulse control disorder?

Here are five problems that may help you identify whether your shopping habits are bordering on an addiction. 

Your Relationships Are Suffering 

Have you had one or more relationship suffer because of your shopping habits? Do you spend less time than you should with family or friends because of your shopping? 

If you find that you’re more glued to your screen to do online shopping than your loved ones, it’s a good sign that you have a shopping addiction. 

You Can’t Stop Thinking About Shopping

If you genuinely can’t stop thinking about shopping, it may be time to recognize that you have a problem. While many of us often think about items we might like to purchase, they shouldn’t be running through your head all the time.

Again, if you’re thinking about shopping at times when it’s inappropriate, it’s a good sign that you have compulsive buying disorder. 

Your Shopping is an Outlet 

If your shopping serves as an outlet for pain or distress, that’s a sign that it may have become an addiction. In many cases, addictions are helping people cope with some physical and/or mental pain.

If shopping is one of the only ways that you derive pleasure, or if it’s a way for you to cope, you should take a hard look at whether your shopping habits are healthy or not. 

You’ve Lied About Your Purchases

Lying about your purchases is another strong sign that you’re facing a shopping addiction. We tend to only lie about things that we shouldn’t be doing or that we’re ashamed about. If you’ve lied about your purchases, you’re risking your relationship and likely the financial well-being of your family as well. 

Your Overall Quality of Life is Suffering 

To be classified a disorder, it needs to be significantly disrupting the quality of your life. If you feel like your overall quality of life is suffering due to your shopping habits, then it’s a surefire sign that it’s reached the level of an addiction. 


Compulsive buying disorder, and impulse control disorders in general, can ruin lives. It’s important that you work on finding healthier habits and seek the help that you may need. If you’re not sure where to start, you can always reach out to your doctor or a licensed counselor for support. 

You may be interested in: Tips To De-Stress After a Long Day at Work