Psychiatrist Questions Shopaholic

My wife is a shopaholic. Is it a behavior or a medical problem?

My wife is constantly shopping for both small and big things, with and without a reason. While I understand that women love to shop, for my wife it looks more like an obsession. Is this just a behavior or a medical problem?

10 Answers

This is a classical feature of manicdepressive illness....How does it intrefere in your finances? Does she acknowledge it? If not there is not much to do.
Shopping for some women can be used as a stress reliever. However if the shopping is excessive to the point of causing debts and relationship problems, then at this point it may be considered a problem that would need to be assessed by a psychiatrist or therapist. Depending on the result of an evaluation appropriate interventions can be offered- therapy alone or therapy with medications.
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It could be both depending on the root of your wife's reasons for shopping. If she has become "addicted" to shopping, so that she continues to do it regardless of consequences such as loss of job, loss of home, loss of relationships, etc., then she may need medical attention. Also, her impulsive shopping is a symptom of bipolar disorder (commonly known as manic-depressive disorder), then the shopping may be a sign of her being manic. In most cases, however, "out of control" shopping is a behavioral issue that can be addressed with an expert. Go on-line and see if there are support groups in your area for this type of behavior, or if there are therapists who specialize in it. Either way, it looks like her shopping has become a problem in your relationship, so you two should talk about it openly and get help.

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Hi, thanks for your interesting question.
While shopping excessively is a behavior, it could also be a symptom of a more serious mental health problem. The question would be if the behavior is causing significant problems in your wife's life, for example, excessive debt, family problems or conflicts, hoarding of objects, and others. If your wife or your family are experiencing problems because of this behavior, I would suggest seeing a qualified counselor or psychologist who could clarify if the behavior is a symptom of a more serious medical problem. If the behavior is causing marital problems, then I would suggest starting with couple's counseling where the behavior can be further explored and diagnosed. I hope this information will help you.
In my experience being a shopaholic is a psychological/behavioral problem, and is usually an misdirected attempt to fill some more basic need. If she is willing, she may be helped by a mental health professional.

Donald A. Moses MD
This could be symptom of Mania/Hypo-mania. Please have her evaluated.
Thank you.
Probably addressed both with behavior therapy and a medication consult.
Sometimes it’s a sign of Bipolar illness type 1 and usually it happens in a manic state.
I understand your distress due to “wife shopping with and without a reason”
Have a Heart to Heart talk with your wife, tell her that you want to have good Spousal Relationship with Emotional, Physical, and Sexual Intimacy; that you are there to understand her feelings, needs and stresses in her life.
Then express your concern about her ‘constantly shopping”, effect on finances, and time away from your relationship; and suggest to see a Psychiatrist for evaluation of her obsessive- compulsive behaviors, and Marital evaluation and Therapy.
Shopping excessively for irrelevant stuff and without acknowledging the budget can be a psychiatric issue or part of an issue. Talking to her about it to see if she has the realization will be the first step. Can see a therapist for the issue as well to guide.