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Why you're buying in bulk, according to a San Diego psychiatrist

We've all seen the photos of empty grocery store shelves. Why are people stocking up?

SAN DIEGO — From Australia to China to stores across the United States, people are buying toilet paper in bulk. You've probably seen photos of empty shelves and maybe felt frustrated or confused.

"I was surprised to see everything cleared out," said one shopper.

The toilet paper shortage is in direct response to an uptick in coronavirus cases, with more than 113,000 people infected globally.

Many say they're preparing in case they get sick or need to stay inside their homes due to a quarantine.

However, stashing toilet paper has left others scratching their heads, like San Diego-based psychiatrist Doctor Michael Lardon.

“No toilet paper at Costco and my first impression is 'what does this have to do with the virus?' [These are] not the Clorox wipes, which makes intuitive sense," said Lardon. 

Lardon said because there are so many unknowns when it comes to the coronavirus, buying supplies is one way to calm people's nerves.

RELATED: Coronavirus concerns prompts hoarding

"We cannot control the virus," said Lardon. "We can control how we prepare for it and people need to feel in control."

Another reason for the sudden need to shop is that if you see others doing it, some feel like they, too, should do the same.

“It's almost like the stock market," said Lardon. "Everybody panics, so everybody sells. It's very neurotic behavior, but provides people with a sense of soothing - and really false -security."

Lardon advised while it's helpful to be prepared, the best thing to do is use common sense to reduce the risk.

"Stay away from people that are sick, wash your hands frequently, and if you're sick, don't go to places that are public," said Lardon. "Take a breath. Follow the guidelines. There's no extra thing you can do."

RELATED: Explaining the coronavirus to your kids

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