Neither bipolar nor obsessive-compulsive disorder: compulsive buyers are impulsive acquirers.
ABSTRACT Compulsive buying (CB) is currently classified as an impulse control disorder (ICD) not otherwise classified. Compulsive buying prevalence is estimated at around 5% of the general population. There is controversy about whether CB should be classified as an ICD, a subsyndromal bipolar disorder (BD), or an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) akin to a hoarding syndrome. To further investigate the appropriate classification of CB, we compared patients with CB, BD, and OCD for impulsivity, affective instability, hoarding, and other OCD symptoms.
Eighty outpatients (24 CB, 21 BD, and 35 OCD) who were neither manic nor hypomanic were asked to fill out self-report questionnaires.
Compulsive buying patients scored significantly higher on all impulsivity measures and on acquisition but not on the hoarding subdimensions of clutter and "difficulty discarding." Patients with BD scored higher on the mania dimension from the Structured Clinical Interview for Mood Spectrum scale. Patients with OCD scored higher on obsessive-compulsive symptoms and, particularly, higher on the contamination/washing and checking dimensions from the Padua Inventory; however, they did not score higher on any hoarding dimension. A discriminant model built with these variables correctly classified patients with CB (79%), BD (71%), and OCD (77%).
Patients with CB came out as impulsive acquirers, resembling ICD- rather than BD- or OCD-related disorders. Manic symptoms were distinctive of patients with BD. Hoarding symptoms other than acquisition were not particularly associated with any diagnostic group.