How Are Compulsive Spending And Depression Related?

Buying anything new is a gratifying behavior. You feel gratified and joyful about the new purchase, often cherishing the product or service for some time. But, for many people spending money on retail items becomes a compulsion. Said compulsion can indicate underlying mental health issues such as mood or personality disorders. Let’s explore one such possibility and discover the link between compulsive spending and depression.

The Relationship Between Compulsive Spending And Depression

Compulsive spending is an impulsive, repetitive behavior of excessive purchase or expenditure. Depression is a mood disorder that involves feelings of worthlessness, guilt, low mood, irregular appetite, and irregular sleep for prolonged periods.

A research article by Donald.W.B. published in Springer shows that compulsive buying disorder affects 2 to 8 % of all adults in the U.S. Most patients are female, and this condition becomes prevalent in the late teens or the early twenties. Usually, CBD is comorbid(happens at the same time) with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, or other personality disorders.

A study by M Lejoyeux and others published in the National Library of Medicine further affirms that compulsive buying is frequent among patients with depression. It is likely to occur coupled with impulse control or dependence problems with high impulsivity. 
Among other studies, the one published in ScienceDirect by Astrid.M. shows that materialism(the belief that physical objects make up the fundamental reality) along with depression is liked with a higher rate of compulsive spending. However, excessive internet use, another symptom of depression and poor mental health, was not.

Read more: Understanding the connection between diabetes and depression

How Does Compulsive Spending Affect A Depressed Person?

Spending excessively and repetitively can be classified as a self-destructive action. Such actions, intentional or unconscious, harm the doer physically, emotionally, and sometimes in both ways. Examples of such behavior include:-
-binge eating,
-compulsive activities such as gambling, gaming, or spending,
-excessive internet use or getting lost inside virtual reality,
-sexually impulsive behavior,
-neglecting self-care,
-substance abuse through drugs and alcohol,
-self-harm and suicidal thoughts, etc.

A depressed person may use said behaviors to boost self-esteem, cope with suffering, or distract themselves. Financial or interpersonal issues are among the apparent harms caused by compulsive spending. But the guilt and stress that the patient and their loved ones(family and friends) suffer are most damaging.

When To Seek Help?

If you or someone you know are exhibiting signs of compulsive spending, such as always shopping or spending money as soon as they get it, it is best to consult a licensed professional. Since this condition is often comorbid, it is best to note any other symptoms and make the patient opt for therapy if possible.

Read more: 7 self-help tips and strategies for depression


Compulsive spending is a self-destructive behavior that involves excessive and repetitive shopping and spending. This condition is often comorbid and more prevalent among women than men. Around 2 to 8% of adults in the United States suffer from this disorder. Compulsive spending and depression are closely related, the latter being a mood disorder that consists of low mood and energy levels over prolonged periods. This condition adversely affects the finances and relationships of the patient and causes distress for their loved ones. It is best to consult a licensed professional or opt for therapy if anyone you know exhibits signs of compulsive shopping. Here is a list of the top five affordable online therapy platforms to get you started.

For more information on compulsive spending, depression, and related mental health issues, or premium products catered to your needs, subscribe to Your Mental Health Pal.

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