Compulsive buying is not just a problem that some women have – it seems that men are just as likely to suffer from it, say researchers from Stanford University, USA. About 5% of adults in the USA say they cannot refrain from shopping for stuff they probably don’t want or need.

The traditional view of women suffering from compulsive buying is probably the result of most studies being done mainly on women. Women are also more likely to admit to compulsive shopping than men.

You can read about this new study in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Surprisingly, more people from lower incomes suffer from compulsive shopping than people from higher incomes.

Compulsive shoppers enjoy the buzz of shopping and browsing for the things – they experience a ‘high’ from it. This is followed by distress and remorse when the person realizes that money was spent on things that would never be used.

In this study, 2,500 adults were surveyed by telephone. The researchers determined each person’s level of compulsive buying by using a screening device called ‘The Compulsive Buying Scale’.

The researchers found that:

— 5.8% of people are Compulsive buyers

— 6% of women are Compulsive buyers

— 5.5% of men are Compulsive buyers

— A higher percentage of younger people are Compulsive buyers than older people

— A higher percentage of people who earn less than $50,000 per year are compulsive buyers

— Male compulsive buyers tend to buy CDs, books, tools, gadgets, computer stuff and cameras.

— Female compulsive buyers tend to buy clothes, make-up, articles for the home and jewelry.

— Male compulsive shoppers are more likely to become addicted to auctions than female compulsive shoppers

— Compulsive buying does not make the sufferer feel any happier

— Many sufferers experience serious debt, remorse and shame

— It is not uncommon for the sufferer to hide his/her addiction from family and friends

— Compulsive buying is as prevalent as many other mental disorders

Is Compulsive Buying a Real Disorder, and Is It Really Compulsive?
Eric Hollander, M.D. and Andrea Allen, Ph.D.
American Journal of Psychiatry 163:1670-1672, October 2006 – doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.163.10.1670
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Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today