What Is Compulsive Buying?

When Onionmania Strikes

Compulsive buying usually begins at age 18 and is more common in women. It is a chronic condition that involves uncontrolled excessive buying without the ability to stop. Patients do not usually seek treatment until their 20s or 30s when they realize that they have developed serious financial problems; some even declare bankruptcy.

Compulsive buyers usually have many credit cards they use for their urges to buy items. They can go on shopping sprees every hour or as infrequently as once a month. Many try to stop their behavior on their own but are unsuccessful.

Compulsive buyers have a maladaptive preoccupation with buying or shopping. They experience irresistible, intrusive or senseless impulses to buy. They frequently buy items that are too expensive to afford or are not needed. They also shop for longer periods of time than intended.

Compulsive buyers are distressed because their behavior is time consuming, significantly interferes with their social or occupational functioning and results in financial problems. It is important to note that compulsive buyers are not experiencing hypomania or mania during their shopping behavior.

Treatments that have shown some success:

  • Limiting access to shopping, credit cards, home catalogs, the internet and home shopping networks
  • Psychotherapy (CBT, psychodynamic therapy, insight-oriented therapy, supportive therapy and behavioral techniques)
  • Medications such as Luvox (antidepressant), Lithium and Depakote (mood stabilizers)

If you or anyone is suffering from compulsive buying, feel free to share your experience on The DSM Ready Movement, so we can come together and help each other.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)


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