Gibraltar Chronicle Media

Whether it’s a new nail polish, a fresh pair of trainers or a top you’ve been eyeing up in the ASOS sale, treating yourself to something nice on payday feels good.

The positive feelings we experience during a shopping session has led to the popularisation of the term ‘retail therapy’, where people make purchases based on their emotional impulses rather than rational thinking. But when does the little rush of pleasure at the point of purchase turn into a more serious compulsion?

In the age of online shopping, addiction experts say there’s a need for a greater understanding and recognition of just how damaging a condition like shopping addiction can be, and the trickle-down impact it can have on relationships, work, finances and emotions.

Also known as ‘oniomania’, compulsive buying is a difficult addiction to spot, because we live in a society that encourages us to consume and chase after the next must-have purchase.

“People with oniomania feel completely ruled by the compulsion to ‘shop and spend’ – either for themselves, or by excessive gifting to others,” says Pamela Roberts, addiction programme manager at the Priory Hospital in Woking. “The time and emotional stress involved in online searching, social media scrolling, visiting shops, juggling credit card bills, hiding purchases from family and returning goods can cause severe disruption to everyday life.