Information Source for Compulsive Buying Disorder



Compulsive Buying Disorder . . .

Compulsive buying disorder is characterized by excessive or poorly controlled preoccupations, urges or behaviors regarding shopping and spending, which leads to adverse consequences. Compulsive buying disorder has been estimated to affect from 2 to 8% of the general adult population in the US; As much as a staggering 95% of compulsive shoppers are female.

Shopping condition often starts in the late teens to early twenties, and the disorder is generally chronic. Psychiatric co morbidity is frequent, particularly mood, anxiety, substance use, eating and personality disorders.

Treatment has not been well delineated, but individual and group psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy and 12-step programs may be helpful.

Debt consolidation and credit counseling will be appropriate for many individuals who have compulsive buying disorder. Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) re-uptake inhibitors may help some patients regulate their buying impulses.

Self-help books are also available on compulsive buying disorder.

Treatment of Compulsive Buying

Although "compulsive buying disorder"is receiving increasing attention in consumer research, it is largely ignored in clinical practice. Compulsive buying disorder (C.B.D.) is defined as excessive and mostly senseless spending or excessive shopping impulses that cause marked distress, interfere with social or occupational functioning, and often results in serious financial problems. It is currently conceptualized as an "impulse control disorder not otherwise specified". CBD is associated with significant psychiatric co-morbidity particularly mood and anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, binge eating disorder, substance use disorders, personality disorders, and other impulse control disorders.

Research also indicates many compulsive shoppers and buyers also suffer from compulsive hoarding. There is no evidence-based treatment approach for CBD and treatment research on this topic is limited. Open label trials suggest that antidepressants could improve compulsive buying. However, small randomized controlled trials failed to demonstrate significant improvement over Placebo and the high placebo-response rate prevents any definitive statement on the efficacy of antidepressants. Two controlled cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) trials reported that group CBT is significantly more effective compared to waiting list control groups in the treatment of compulsive buying. Clinical and therapeutic implications are discussed.

Compulsive buying is infrequently described in the psychiatric literature despite suggestions that it may be prevalent. The authors investigated the demographics and phenomenology of this syndrome and assessed psychiatric comorbidity via interviews of both compulsive buyers and normal buyers.

METHOD: 24 compulsive buyers were compared with 24 age and sex-matched normal buyers using

  1. a semi structured interview for compulsive buying and impulse control disorders

  2. a modified version of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R, and

  3. scales measuring compulsiveness, depression, and anxiety.

RESULTS: The typical compulsive buyer was a 36-year-old female who had developed compulsive buying at age 17-1/2 and whose buying had resulted in adverse psychosocial consequences. Purchases were usually of clothes, shoes, jewelry, or makeup, which frequently went unused. Compared with normal buyers, compulsive buyers had a higher lifetime prevalence of anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, and eating disorders and were more depressed, anxious, and compulsive. Among compulsive buyers, 16 (66.7%) described buying that resembled obsessive compulsive disorder, whereas 23 (95.8%) described buying that resembled an impulse control disorder.