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Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2010 Sep;36(5):248-53. doi: 10.3109/00952990.2010.493590.

Compulsive buying.

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Paris University, Department of Psychiatry, France.



Compulsive buying is a chronic, repetitive purchasing that becomes a primary response to negative events and feelings, and may include symptoms equivalent to craving and withdrawal.


This article describes the addictive characteristics of compulsive buying, the psychiatric comorbidity, and the possibilities of treatment.


Using PubMed and MedLine search engines, we performed a review of published literature over the period 1990-2010 using the keyword "compulsive buying".


A key feature distinguishing compulsive buyers from normal consumers, collectors, and hoarders is that the former focuses on the buying process itself, rather than the items bought. In this instance, the purchased items are usually never used, but tend to be hidden or thrown away. A recent screening study found that up to 5% of adult Americans appear to be afflicted with this compulsion. Compulsive buying results in adverse consequences, including financial and legal problems, psychological distress (depression, guilt), and interpersonal conflict. The most commonly associated comorbidities are depression and eating disorders. Nothing is known about the neurobiology and genetics of compulsive buying and relatively little about its treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy has some efficacy, but no medication has been effective in controlled trials.


Compulsive buying can be described as a behavioral dependence. A great deal of future research is needed to improve our understanding of compulsive buying.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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