Who Is In Control: Shopping or You?

Published on January 1, 2014


Many of us can go overboard when it comes to shopping. We see the magic word “sale” or there are special offers or we find a style we like and choose to buy it in multiple colors. Shopping compulsively can get out of hand and lead into remorse or guilt quickly.

Impulse shopping can give way to an addiction if shopping begins to control our behavior and is excessive even in the face of negative consequences. There are many reasons for excessive shopping. Some people shop when they are lonely or bored. Others want the newest product because they believe it will make them happy or make themselves look better to others.

Stress from our daily lives can be easily lifted when we lift up a brand new bag of purchases. Many people seek shopping as a mood enhancer for anxiety or depression. Breuning (2012) noted our brain releases happy chemicals such as endorphins or dopamine when we find something that turns it on. Once we find something, in this case shopping, the brain repeats the behavior to feel happy or “high” again.

This happy cycle can continue even if we have negative consequences. Negative consequences can come in the form of difficulty in relationships or friendships, lack of savings, increased debt, or lowered credit scores.

There are ways to stop the happy cycle. One of the main things to consider is the “why” of shopping. Look at your motivations for the shopping spree or the particular item you have to have. Think about whether you truly need this item to be happy.

Find different ways to interrupt your shopping pattern. Don’t go by avenues where you know you love to shop. Only carry a specific amount of cash and leave your credit cards at home. Set a monthly budget for all your spending to limit impulse buying. Tell the people important to you about your want to change so they can support you. Find hobbies or new interests to enhance your life and keep you away from unhealthy habits.

Behaviors don’t change overnight. Remember to be patient and reinforce to yourself why you want to make positive changes last.

For more information, contact Dr. Hana Ra Adams PsyD., MA, LMFT at hana.ra.adams@thechangegroup.sg


Breuning, L.G. (2012). Meet Your Happy Chemicals. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/files/attachments/59029/happy-chemicals.pdf on December 26, 2013.

Category(s):Addictions, Compulsive Spending / Shopping

Written by:

Dr. Hana Ra Adams PsyD., MA, LMFT

Dr. Adams obtained her psychology degree from Pennsylvania State University, U.S.A. She obtained her Masters Degree in counseling psychology (marriage and family therapy) and her Doctorate Degree in clinical psychology from Argosy University – Twin Cities, U.S.A. She is a Korean-American Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who enjoys working with families, children, adolescents, couples, adults, and older adults. She has worked in a variety of settings including hospitals, community mental health centers, in-home therapy, nursing care, mental health clinics, and school settings. She offers English, Korean, and a wide range of culturally appropriate services.

Dr. Adams works collaboratively with people to create new solutions and stories for their lives. She has experience working with people struggling with anxiety, depression, cross-cultural adjustment, transitional concerns, family conflict, marriage/relationship concerns, identity issues, sexual health concerns, sexual abuse, incest, parenting, adoption issues, grief/loss, school issues, shopping concerns, and academic concerns. She has special interest and experience with infant/perinatal loss.

Dr. Adams also has experience providing psychological assessments for personality and academic concerns. She is an American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship Program fellow.

Dr. Hana Ra Adams PsyD., MA, LMFT belongs to The Change Group LLP in Singapore

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