What Is Compulsive Buying Disorder?
Compulsive Buying Disorder (CBD) is characterized by patterns of persistent, uncontrollable, and intense desires or urges for buying. These urges result in excessive buying followed by negative emotions after the purchase, which precipitates additional buying to overcome the negative emotions. It is a persistent cycle in which one is unable to stop buying resulting in adverse consequences.
CBD is not considered a disorder under current psychiatric guidelines either as an addictive disorder or an impulse-control disorder. This hopefully will change in the future.
Compulsive buying is associated with momentary feelings of satisfaction. Individuals who compulsively buy find meaning in material possessions even though there are consequences to this behavior. These consequences can include emotional distress, issues with finances or the legal system, psychological problems, and social functioning. Many relationships are also impaired for the compulsive buyer, as there are corresponding issues with high credit-card debt and inability to pay for regular household expenses.
The individual with CBD probably has another co-occurring disorder such as depression, substance use disorder, eating disorder, gambling disorder, or other compulsive disorder.
Compulsive buying is associated with underlying negative feelings but also with the norms that are encouraged by society. Everyone needs to shop and the marketing of products is over emphasized in the media. We all need to have the biggest, brightest, and newest widget in our home and it is offered to you on sale! The individual with CBD finds gratification in the acquisition of “things” knowing that these “things” will make them happy. This is also reinforced by the media with celebrities who purchase items that are unrealistic purchases to many individuals.
CBD starts the same as most other addictions. The individual will buy something, have a rewarding experience, and most likely repeat the behavior. This might sound strange as most of us purchase something at least weekly. The difference is that the compulsive buyer, over time, will buy because they have a persistent need to do so. The need to buy becomes overwhelming and the individual needs to make a purchase to overcome negative feelings associated with stress, social dysfunction, or financial and legal problems.
There is currently no standard treatment for CBD; however, there exist treatments that have shown positive results. These treatments include psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral group therapy, family therapy, financial counseling, or self-help groups. Whichever treatment option the individual receives, the treatment options are all designed to change the individual’s negative thought patterns associated with compulsive buying and to reduce stress in the individual’s life.
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