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Citalopram for Compulsive Shopping Disorder: An Open-Label Study Followed by Double-Blind Discontinuation

J Clin Psychiatry 2003;64(7):793-798

Background: Open-label trials suggested that fluvoxamine and citalopram may be effective for compulsive shopping disorder, but 2 double-blind fluvoxamine trials failed to confirm this. To test the hypothesis that citalopram is a safe, effective treatment for this disorder, we conducted a 7-week, open-label trial followed by a 9-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled discontinuation trial.

Method: From Jan. 2001 to Jan. 2002, we enrolled adult outpatients meeting diagnostic criteria suggested in a prior study for compulsive shopping disorder and having a score of >= 17 on the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale-Shopping Version (YBOCS-SV). Open-label citalopram was started at 20 mg/day and increased, absent marked response and limiting side effects, to 60 mg/day. Responders (subjects rated "much improved" or "very much improved" on the Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement scale [CGI-I] and having a >= 50% decrease in YBOCS-SV score) were randomized to double-blind citalopram treatment at the week 7 dose or placebo for 9 weeks.

Results: We enrolled 24 subjects (23 women and 1 man). Mean ± SD YBOCS-SV scores decreased significantly from 24.3 ± 4.6 at baseline to 8.2 ± 8.1 at week 7 (Wilcoxon signed rank: z = 4.20, p < .001). Fifteen of 24 subjects (63%) met the responder criteria. Three subjects (13%) discontinued for adverse events (1 each for headache, rash, and insomnia). Of the 15 responders who entered the double-blind treatment phase, 5 of 8 (63%) randomized to placebo relapsed (YBOCS-SV score >= 17 and "minimally improved" or less on the CGI-I) compared with none of 7 randomized to continue taking citalopram (Fisher exact test p = .019).

Conclusion: Citalopram appears to be a safe and effective treatment for compulsive shopping disorder. Further trials of citalopram and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are warranted.