What Is Compulsive Buying Disorder (CBD)?

Compulsive buying disorder (CBD), also known as shopping disorder is the compulsion to spend money, regardless of financial means or need. While many people enjoy shopping, compulsive shopping can cause severe consequences for the addict as it is a mental health disorder.

Shopping addiction may be to particular products such as jewelry, shoes or clothes, but the addict may also buy anything from stocks, beauty products, real estate and even food. Medical experts believe that compulsive shoppers get the same feeling or high from shopping as a drug addict gets from using. Once the brain associates shopping with a high or pleasure, he or she tries to recreate it again and again eventually leading to a shopping addiction.


Sometimes, it’s only the people closest to the addict that know about the problem. A common symptom is when an addict hides his or her purchases or makes it seem as if he or she has plenty of money to shop without limits. In fact, many compulsive shoppers convey an image of success and wealth while in reality they may be deep in debt.

Consequences of compulsive buying disorder

If a compulsive shopper suffers from large amounts of shopping debt or is unable to stop shopping, an addiction may be present and the addict is likely to suffer several consequences. He or she may shop to cope with stress, steal or lie to continue the habit, max out credit cards or open new ones without paying off previous balances, buy unnecessary things or items that go unused and or eventually get into financial crisis.


Shopping addiction can prove hectic to manage as making purchases is part of normal everyday life. This means that a shopping addiction cannot be simply treated by stopping the act of buying. We must all purchase items such as food regularly to survive.

Depending on how severe the addiction is, the addict may need to be initially cut off from cash flow or removed from daily activities. A useful tactic is to have someone else take charge of the finances. There are also rare cases where an addict may need to attend and inpatient or outpatient addiction program.

However, individual counseling and behavioral therapy have proved to be quite resourceful in treating compulsive shopping disorders. The main idea is for the addict to identify the triggers and overcome impulse control disorders. There are many cases where shopping addiction stems from mental health conditions or deeper emotional issues. In such cases, medication may help. Consulting a mental health expert is advisable. Addicts can also benefit from money management classes or 12 step recovery programs like shopaholics anonymous and the likes. Such groups offer positive support during the recovery process.

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