A woman taking a common anti-psychotic drug said its side effects led to her spending 10,000 in two months.
Abbi Hoxleigh, of Warwickshire, said she developed a shopping addiction after being prescribed aripiprazole.
Mental health medication treats conditions including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but can cause some people to engage in compulsive behavior.
Health agencies say that impulse control disorders are a very rare but recognized side effect of the drug.
Shortly after being contacted by the BBC, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued a new warning in the guideline about aripiprazole and the risks of pathological gambling and other impulse control disorders.
Ms Hoxleigh, who has post traumatic stress disorder, said she decided to speak out because she wanted to raise awareness of the unusual reaction.
He has lived with mental health problems for more than three decades.
The company director started a PR firm during the pandemic and said he went through a particularly difficult time this summer.
His mother died of Covid in 2020 and he was experiencing work-related stress.
The 51-year-old, from Rugby, was prescribed aripiprazole in September and said she quickly experienced an uncomfortable reaction, including numbness in her legs and muscles.
Later, she found herself becoming a compulsive shopper and spending thousands on clothes, furniture and supermarket goods.
I would make my way to the supermarket on two buses or walk when usually my food was delivered, he said.
Alison Cave, the MHRA’s chief safety officer, said aripiprazole was an important medicine but advised patients to tell their doctor about unusual urges they cannot resist.
These include behaviors such as addictive gambling, excessive eating or spending or an abnormally high sex drive, Ms Cave explained.
“The number of reports for suspected gambling and other impulsive behavior associated with aripiprazole is small compared to the frequency with which it is prescribed,” he said.
“But the consequences for any patient who develops these conditions can be significant.”
Prof Henrietta Bowden-Jones, director of the National Problem Gambling Clinic, added: “Clinicians who prescribe aripiprazole must commit to constantly alerting patients about these potential risks.”
The Royal College of Psychiatrists said it was aware of the new advice to professionals and a spokesman urged people to talk to their doctor before going off the drug suddenly.
From 30 June 2009 to 28 August 2023, the MHRA received 69 reports mentioning aripiprazole, which is prescribed more than one million times a year, as a suspected drug for the side effects of gambling or gambling disorder . Thirty-two of these reports were received in 2023.
Ms Hoxleigh said at the height of her compulsive behaviour, she spent more than £600 in supermarkets in one day.
He showed the BBC receipts that he had kept in case he was suspected of shoplifting.
The 10,000 total includes spending 5,000 when she was on aripiprazole and 5,000 when she was dealing with a drug-induced shopping addiction in October.
A friend said that when they bumped into me in the supermarket I grabbed things almost robotically, added Ms Hoxleigh.
“It was really hard to see that I was out of control and just going from one store to another.”
Ms Hoxleigh, a former community mental health worker, can afford the shopping but says she fears for young people and those without financial resources to face coercion.
Spending ate into her savings and she says she was forced to put off plans to move house.
But he stressed that his family remained supportive throughout.
“I’m not ashamed but it’s hard to understand how you must be feeling,” added Ms Hoxleigh.
He welcomed the renewed advice given to medical professionals and urged patients to report their side effects through MHRA’s Yellow Card scheme, which collects and tracks information on suspected safety concerns involving healthcare products.
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