Compulsive shopping, a DSM-IV impulse-control disorder not otherwise specified, is characterized by preoccupation with shopping and inability to resist buying unneeded items, with resulting marked distress, social or occupational impairment, and financial and/or familial problems. Because an open-label trial suggested that fluovaxamine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), is effective for this disorder, we tested the effectiveness of the SSRI citalopram.We enrolled adults meeting formal diagnostic criteria (as defined by McElroy and colleagues) in a 12-week open-label trial. We excluded subjects with obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, substance abuse or dependence, or psychotic disorders. Citalopram treatment was begun at 20 mg/day and increased every 2 weeks by 20 mg/day, absent marked response and limiting side effects, to 60 mg/day. At endpoint, all subjects were asked to give written informed consent for follow-up telephone interviews at 3-month intervals for 12 months.We enrolled 24 subjects, 22 women and 2 men, whose mean +/- SD age was 43.7 +/- 8.1 years; most had been shopping compulsively for 2 decades or more. Citalopram (mean +/- SD endpoint dose = 35.4 +/- 21.4 mg/day) produced rapid, marked, sustained improvements on both the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale-Shopping Version and the Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement (CGI-I) scale in subjects with and without comorbid conditions. Seventeen subjects (71%) were responders, achieving ratings of much or very much improved on the CGI-I, including 2 of the 3 subjects who discontinued for adverse events (sedation or agitation). During a 6-month follow-up period, those continuing citalopram therapy were less likely to relapse than those discontinuing the medication.Citalopram appears to be a safe and effective treatment for compulsive shopping. Acute and long-term, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of citalopram and other SSRIs for the treatment of this disorder are indicated.
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