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What is oniomania? Do you know that you might have it and not know it?

Oniomania is a medical term used to describe a person who is addicted to shopping. In more common terms, oniomania refers to compulsive shopping, a shopaholic, or an uncontrollable desire to purchase products, in many cases when there is no apparent need for the products at the time of purchase.

The term "oniomania" originated from the Greek word "onios" which means for sale and "mania" which means insane. It is referred to as a disorder that, in many cases, has to be cured by medical means, often though the use of intensive counseling and clinical support.

There are no definitive reasons why certain people cannot control their spending habits but it has been proven that shopping disorders often begin during childhood years and become more pronounced as the individual gets older.

It is thought that oniomania is brought on because of low self esteem, parental neglect, peer pressure, or other experiences that might cause a person to turn to shopping as a way of dealing with personal problems, much the same as with eating disorders and drug and alcohol abuse.

Compulsive shopping, like other addictions, offer a quick feel of euphoria. Once the shopping is done, the euphoria evaporates and often leaves the shopoholic feeling worse than before, which often leads to more shopping, insurmountable debt, and other credit problems.

People with oniomania often resort to hiding or destroying the merchandise they purchase and in turn, shop more to replace it. This can evolve into an ongoing problem sending the shopper deeper and deeper in debt and in many cases, landing them in bankruptcy court.

Oniomania is described as having impulsive behaviors, often accompanied by stress and social dysfunctions. A person with this disease has a preoccupation with trying to satisfy a need that cannot be controlled or satisfied without the help of therapy. And often, as with the case of drug addiction, the person goes through long periods of denial and self loathing.

Aside from debt and bankruptcy, a person with oniomania can suffer mentally and physically. There have been reported cases of suicide, murder, divorces, and ruined relationships with other family members and friends.

To gain control of oniomania, counseling is required and the patient is treated for addiction. This may take years of therapeutic intervention. The first step in curing oniomania is for the patient to recognize that he or she has a problem. As easy as this sounds, many people cannot bring themselves to admit that they have a problem with shopping.


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