OBJECTIVE: Compulsive buying disorder was first described as a psychiatric syndrome in the early twentieth century. Its classification remains elusive, and investigators have debated its potential relationship to mood, substance use, obsessive-compulsive, and impulse control disorders. The objective of this study is to present a review of compulsive buying disorder and present a case vignette. METHOD: Two databases were reviewed (Medline and PsycINFO) in search for articles published in the last 40 years. Selected terms included oniomania, compulsive buying, and compulsive shopping. Other relevant articles were also identified through reference lists. RESULTS: Compulsive buying disorder is a prevalent and chronic condition that is found worldwide, sharing commonalities with impulse control disorders. In clinical samples, women make up more than 80% of subjects. Its etiology is unknown, but neurobiologic and genetic mechanisms have been proposed. The disorder is highly comorbid with mood, substance use, eating and impulse control disorders. CONCLUSIONS: Treatment recommendations derived from the literature and clinical experience suggest that problem shoppers can benefit from psychosocial interventions. Cognitive-behavioral group models appear promising. Medication trials have reported mixed results. The identification and treatment of psychiatric comorbidity is also a key aspect of treatment. In order to determine the validity of compulsive buying disorder, future work should focus on psychopathology and neurobiological findings unique to the syndrome.
Oniomania; Compulsive buying; Personality; Treatment; Impulse control disorders