Shopping may be a useful coping mechanism if you’re caught in the eye of the Tiger.

Kristin Smith, the fashion stylist that Tiger Woods is dating, reportedly learnt about his recent DUI arrest while in a Dallas Neiman Marcus boutique. According to TMZ, Smith “went crazy” and began crying, though that didn’t stop her from dropping $5,000 on luxury clothing before rushing out. The fallen golf legend’s girlfriend also found retail therapy to be useful after Woods’ mugshot was splashed on the front page of seemingly every tabloid newspaper and abuzz on Twitter. According to the gossip website, she was subsequently spotted in Dallas loading what appeared to be shoe boxes into the trunk of a car. Smith has showed off her penchant for designer goods on Instagram, where she models heels from high-end Italian footwear label Aquazurra, scarves from Hermès and dresses made by New York style icon Iris Apfel.

Smith is not the first person to find that spending some cash relieves stress. Shortly after declaring bankruptcy in 2010, “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Teresa Giudice famously dropped over $60,000 on curtains and luxury furnishings. Pop superstar Britney Spears has reportedly said that she finds getting a pair of new shoes to be the way out of an emotional dump, and is believed to have dropped $20,000 on a Domaine bed for her mom after her parents split.

“One of the main causes of shopping addiction stems from a person feeling out of control in a particular area of their life. The shopping serves to relieve the stress,” says Fran Walfish, a Beverly Hills psychotherapist. “This reduces the anxiety momentarily, but it is a way of not dealing directly with uncomfortable feelings.”

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Of course, the occasional splurge after a stressful day is different from having a real problem. According to the author of “The Self-Aware Parent,” there are certain tell-tale signs. These include buying something and then not ever wearing the new purchases, as well as feeling relief of anxiety and a short-lived boost in self-esteem shortly after swiping the plastic, which is then typically followed by guilt and sadness. However, the pattern continues and the sprees continue. That can be financially challenging for even wealthy people— the average American household carries $5,700 in credit card card, data from the Federal Reserve show. Those with zero or no net worth on average owe $10,308 to their credit card issuer.

Given that this is not an uncommon problem, psychologists are also well-versed in treating it. Walfish thinks the addicts.com 24-hour helpline (800.654.0987) is a good starting point. She also suggests paying for your purchase in cash instead of by card, since seeing money physically leaving one’s wallet makes one more conscious of one’s spending. Making shopping lists that one religiously sticks to, as well as avoiding clearance sales helps. “Most people love a deal and buy more than they need [and then] wasting the money spent by hardly ever using their new purchases,” she says.

That said, there may be nothing wrong with strategically using targeted splurges as a reward. According to a 2011 study in the Psychology and Marketing journal, there is some evidence that shopping can lastingly elevate one’s mood. “Retail therapy is alive and well because there seem to be few, if any, downside consequences of engaging in the unplanned purchases of treats,” wrote researchers at HEC business school in Paris and Pennsylvania State University. “There were no indications that individuals who made therapeutic purchases spent over their budgets.”