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A 1-Year Naturalistic Follow-Up of Patients With Compulsive Shopping Disorder

J Clin Psychiatry 2003;64:946-950

Background: Compulsive shopping disorder is increasingly recognized as a treatable impulse-control disorder. We report the first long-term, naturalistic follow-up of patients with compulsive shopping disorder, which examined the course of illness over 1 year in a cohort that had completed up to 3 months of open-label treatment with citalopram, 20 mg/day to 60 mg/day. In that trial, 17 (71%) of 24 subjects who met McElroy and colleagues' diagnostic criteria for compulsive shopping disorder were responders (Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement scale rating of much or very much improved and Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale-Shopping Version score decrease of >= 50%).

Method: Follow-up interviews occurred 3, 6, 9, and 12 months after study end. Data gathered included comorbid conditions, estimated total debt, 2-week spending, whether the patient was taking citalopram, and illness versus remission status. Remission was defined as no longer meeting diagnostic criteria for compulsive shopping disorder. Data were gathered between March 2000 and January 2002.

Results: Of responders at trial end, 81% (13/16), 71% (10/14), 71% (10/14), and 73% (11/15) were in remission at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. Mean 2-week compulsive shopping expenditures decreased from $773 (median = $500) at baseline to $351 (median = $0) at month 12, and mean total debt decreased from $17,833 (median = $20,000) to $16,752 (median = $14,000). No clear association was seen between taking citalopram and remission status (p = .55, p = .08, p = .58, and p = .60 at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months, respectively; Fisher exact test). The majority of trial nonresponders remained ill at each follow-up point.

Conclusion: An acute response to citalopram predicts a greater likelihood of continued remission over 1 year, although the mechanisms that maintain remission require further investigation.