OBJECTIVE: Uncontrolled buying, defined by the presence of repetitive
impulsive and excessive buying that leads to personal and familial
distress, is a psychiatric disorder that has only recently been recognized.
This review focuses on the prevalence, clinical features, and etiology of
this disorder. METHOD: All published articles on the topic were collected
and reviewed. The literature concerning the typology of normal consumerism
was also reviewed. RESULTS: The prevalence of the disorder in the general
population is reported to be 1.1%. The main clinical features of
uncontrolled buying are impulsivity and repetition of buying, the invasive
need to buy, unsuccessful attempts to control spending, and the existence
of tangible negative consequences of buying (marked distress, interference
with social or occupational functioning, or financial problems).
Uncontrolled buying may be related to obsessive-compulsive disorder,
depression, addiction, or impulsivity. CONCLUSIONS: In most cases,
uncontrolled buying can be understood as "compensatory buying" that
temporarily alleviates depressive symptoms and can thus be associated with
the results of antidepressant treatment in cases in which uncontrolled
buying is symptomatically associated with depression.