Therapy in Practice

CNS Drugs

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 17-27

First online:

Compulsive Buying Disorder

Definition, Assessment, Epidemiology and Clinical Management
  • Donald W. BlackAffiliated withPsychiatry Research — MEB, University of Iowa College of Medicine

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Compulsive buying disorder is characterised by excessive or poorly controlled preoccupations, urges or behaviours regarding shopping and spending, which lead to adverse consequences.

Compulsive buying disorder has been estimated to affect from 2 to 8% of the general adult population in the US; 80 to 95% of those affected are female. Onset occurs in the late teens or early twenties, and the disorder is generally chronic. Psychiatric comorbidity is frequent, particularly mood, anxiety, substance use, eating and personality disorders.

Treatment has not been well delineated, but individual and group psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy and 12-step programmes may be helpful. Debt consolidation and credit counselling will be appropriate for many individuals who have compulsive buying disorder. Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) reuptake inhibitors may help some patients regulate their buying impulses. Self-help books are also available.