Addiction to shopping fuelled by online retailing should be classed as a mental health condition, psychiatrists claim.

Researchers said that about 5 per cent of adults in developed countries — more than 2.5 million Britons — had some form of buying-shopping disorder (BSD), an extreme form of craving.

The World Health Organisation does not classify it as a mental health condition, unlike gambling and video game addiction, pyromania and kleptomania. A classification leads health services to devise specific approaches to treatment.

Researchers analysed 122 patients who had sought treatment for compulsive shopping for a study reported in Comprehensive Psychiatry. They found that 33.6 per cent showed signs of addiction to online shopping, linking it to a “higher severity” of anxiety and depression. This was because…

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