About 12 percent of women in their 20s are shopping addicts and impulse-buy unnecessary things, according to a poll.

The survey, released this week, was conducted in May 1999 by a group led by Tempei Otsubo, a psychiatry lecturer at Tokyo’s Showa University. It showed that 11 out of the 89 respondents — female students aged between 20 and 26 — were shopping addicts.

The poll used the group’s own yardstick to determine dependency on buying. The 11 people classified as addicts responded positively to more than five questions on a 10-point list. The respondents were students at a nurses’ training school attached to the university.

The prospective nurses were asked whether they felt an increased demand for expensive things that gave them a thrill, whether they felt restless when they stopped shopping and whether they lied about or hid their purchases.

Otsubo said shopping dependency begins in the late teens, but there is little difference in dependency among generations.

“So, 10 percent of adult women may be at risk of developing a shopping addiction,” he said.

According to Otsubo, 90 percent of shopping addicts are women, and 40 percent of their purchases go unused. He said some shopping addicts spend beyond their credit-card limits and end up bankrupt.

In principle, shopping addiction is classified as a mental disorder caused by stress and discontent over concerns such as marriage, relations with fellow workers and status in the workplace, Otsubo said.

“There are also cases abroad in which 60 percent to 80 percent of these people (who shop too much) have improved their condition with the help of medication,” he said.

“I wish such people would have themselves examined before things lead to serious problems, such as crime and divorce,” he said.