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Cartoon of a woman carrying many shopping bags.

Oniomania or a compulsive "urge to buy" is a disorder that affects about 1.8 percent of the U.S. population.

Do you have oniomania?

From eNews, December 4, 2003

Compulsive buying is the recurrent failure to resist the impulse to buy needless objects. According to the U's Impulse Control Disorders Clinic, it was called oniomania or "urge to buy" in past medical literature, and today it's a disorder that affects about 1.8 percent of the U.S. population. Do you have it? Buying is considered compulsive if you have a frequent preoccupation with buying or your impulses to buy are irresistible, intrusive, and senseless; if you continually buy more than you can afford; and if you habitually shop for items you do not need. Additionally, if those preoccupations, impulses, or behaviors cause you marked distress, are time-consuming, significantly interfere with social or occupational functioning, or result in financial problems, you may have oniomania. Only a few studies have been conducted using medication to treat compulsive buying. According to the clinic, citalopram (Celexa) and fluvoxamine (Luvox) have shown the most promise in relieving the symptoms of compulsive buying because they give increased control over thoughts, urges, and behaviors. Uncontrollable buying may be a symptom of several problems, including other psychiatric illnesses. The clinic, which is part of the Department of Psychiatry, recommends that you see a psychiatrist or speak to your primary physician if you feel you are suffering from the disorder. For more information about the treatment of compulsive buying, call the U's Impulse Control Disorders Clinic at 612-627-4879. Editor's note: If you're looking for tips on holiday budgeting, the University of Minnesota Extension Service has some to offer.

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