Sunday Territorian - - NEWS - RE­BECCA DIGIROLAMO

A SHOP­PING hit can have the same bi­o­log­i­cal ef­fect as a line of co­caine, ac­cord­ing to new Aus­tralian uni­ver­sity-led world­wide re­search.

The find­ings, by re­searchers at South Aus­tralia’s Flin­ders Uni­ver­sity, have prompted calls for Buy­ing-Shop­ping Dis­or­der to be re­clas­si­fied as an addictive be­hav­iour.

“The phys­i­ol­ogy be­tween Buy­ing-Shop­ping Dis­or­der and drug ad­dic­tion is very sim­i­lar,” Flin­ders Uni­ver­sity Pro­fes­sor Mike Kyrios told the Sun­day Ter­ri­to­rian.

Prof Kyrios is among five re­searchers from Aus­tralia and Ger­many who re­viewed more than 70 re­search pa­pers link­ing com­mon traits be­tween Buy­ing-Shop­ping Dis­or­der, or BSD, with med­i­cally listed be­havioural ad­dic­tions such as gam­bling and in­ter­net ad­dic­tion.

“Re­cent re­search find­ings in­di­cate an over­lap in key char­ac­ter­is­tics of BSD and dis­or­ders due to sub­stance use or addictive be­hav­iours, sug­gest­ing the ... cat­e­gori­sa­tion of BSD as a be­havioural ad­dic­tion,” says the study, pub­lished by Cur­rent Be­havioural Neu­ro­science Re­ports.

BSD is clas­si­fied by the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion as a po­ten­tial “other spec­i­fied im­pulse-con­trol dis­or­der” – a class of psy­chi­atric dis­or­ders typ­i­fied by im­pul­siv­ity, in­clud­ing klep­to­ma­nia (an in­abil­ity to stop steal­ing).

While there is no re­li­able data in Aus­tralia, re­cent in­ter­na­tional stud­ies sug­gest BSD af­fects al­most 5 per cent of the adult pop­u­la­tion in de­vel­oped coun­tries, with al­most one in 14 Amer­i­cans af­fected.

Prof Kyrios said BSD was much more than just an im­pul­sive urge to spend and sus­pected the prob­lem was get­ting worse with the ad­vent of on­line shop­ping.

He said BSD was typ­i­cally as­so­ci­ated with feel­ings of in­tense eupho­ria dur­ing and just af­ter un­con­trol­lable shop­ping, fol­lowed by guilt, shame, anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion, and then by crav­ing for the next “hit” with more and more ex­treme be­hav­iours in or­der to feel the same in­ten­sity of the high.

“Your body craves to shop so that you can get the same phys­i­cal re­ac­tion – that feel­ing of eupho­ria,” Prof Kyrios said.

“The heart rate goes up, there is a re­lease of ten­sion, feel­ings of hap­pi­ness and you’re on a high.

“But there is the com­ing down too and this then trig­gers the next cy­cle of anx­i­ety, guilt, de­pres­sion, which trig­gers at­tempts to com­pen­sate th­ese neg­a­tive feel­ings by buy­ing or shop­ping . . . and the crav­ing starts all over again.”

Prof Kyrios, a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist, said he was aware of BSD suf­fer­ers end­ing their lives, of theft and iden­tity fraud, huge debt and of mar­riage and fam­ily break­down due to fi­nan­cial strain and dis­trust.

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