Almost half of the women involved reported being afraid of the economic recession, and 45 percent said their financial situation was worsening because of the global economic downturn.
Many women blamed depression or feeling down for their spending habit, which researchers said was a common way to manage negative feelings in general, particularly in women. The ability to control emotions is critical for mental and physical health. Some people turn to shopping while others turn to drugs or alcohol.
"This type of spending, or compensatory consumption, serves as a way of regulating intense emotions," said survey author Professor Karen Pine, of the University of Hertfordshire, in a news release. "If shopping is an emotional habit for women they may feel the need to keep spending despite the economic downturn."
Still, for some of the women who participated in the study, shopping appeared to provide only a temporary fix. About 25 percent of the participants said they felt guilt, shame and even remorse after making a purchase especially since the overwhelming majority of them were actively worried about money.
Researchers said the bursts of overspending might still be necessary.
"If they can't spend we might see an increase in mental health problems such as anxiety and depression," Professor Pine warned.