Needs and wants are two very different animals.

You may need a purse to store basic essentials like a wallet, tissues and a phone, but do you need one in every color, size and style for every season of the year? For the compulsive shopper, needs and wants can subtly blur into one ravenous beast that breathes fire and has an uncontrollable thirst that seems impossible to quench.

According to Verywell Mind, compulsive shopping is a behavioral addiction that involves repetitive, unhealthy shopping patterns that negatively interferes with a person’s life.

Often paired with mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety, this kind of behavior is used as a way of coping in order to temporarily escape from undesirable feelings or stress.

If you think you (or someone you know) may be a compulsive shopper, keep reading to learn more of the signs.

Signs You May be a Shopaholic:

  • You are wondering if your spending habits are normal
  • You find yourself shopping when negative feelings arise
  • The thought of buying something new frequently overwhelms your mind
  • Your credit card feels like your best friend
  • You spend money that you don’t have
  • Your shopping debt is leading you into financial turmoil
  • There is a strain on your relationships due to your extreme or unnecessary spending
  • You shop for things you don’t need or may never use
  • You hide your purchases or become secretive about your spending habits

Just like any addiction, compulsive shopping can lead to some pretty detrimental consequences. Relationships, finances and your mental wellbeing may all be at risk. To help break this habit for good, consider the following tips below.

How to Put an End to Compulsive Shopping:

  1. Admit that you have a problem. By recognizing that you have a shopping addiction as well as acknowledging that you need to make a change, this serves as the first step toward finding healing.
  2. Ask for help. Try talking to someone you trust and stay open about your struggle. If your addiction persists, seek counsel from a mental health professional or a behavioral therapist.
  3. Find accountability. Stop shopping alone. Instead, find some friends and ask them to help you monitor your spending.
  4. Stop carrying a credit card. These can be dangerous tools for compulsive shoppers as it can be easy to lose control over how much you spend. Make the switch from cards to cash—at least for a little while.
  5. Start tracking your purchases. You may not realize just how much money you’ve been spending on unnecessary things until you write it down.
  6. Find the root. Be honest with yourself and try to determine where the addiction began. Dig deeper within your life and focus on uncovering what void you are trying to fill with the “stuff” you don’t actually need.
  7. Shift your focus. There are many alternative and healthier ways to cope with negative emotions than to shop needlessly. Rather than succumb to your temptations, try to redirect your attention to other activities such as exercise, self-improvement or rediscovering old hobbies.

Remember, with a new mindset and by taking the steps above, you will never truly have to “shop ‘til you drop.” For more information on the psychology of shopping, check out the infographic below:

Graphic created by Illinois Lending, a short term loan company.