Compulsive hoarding is defined as the accumulation of and failure to discard large quantities of possessions resulting in incapacitating clutter. Once thought to be a rare phenomenon, compulsive hoarding is estimated to affect around 4-5% of the population. Although more data is needed, hoarding appears to run a chronic and progressive course with mild symptoms beginning around age 18. Severe hoarding can cause impairment across a variety of domains including social, occupational, and family. Hoarding has traditionally been viewed as a symptom or subtype of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. However, current research suggests that hoarding may be a distinct disorder.
Compulsive hoarding is viewed as a multifaceted problem stemming from various information processing deficits (e.g. categorization, decision making, and attention deficits), extreme emotional attachments to possessions, and behavioral avoidance. Current cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) based treatment approaches involve understanding the mechanisms by which thoughts and behaviors, particularly avoidance, maintain compulsive hoarding symptoms. Specific activities include identifying and challenging core beliefs about the nature and need for specific possessions in addition to addressing difficulties with discarding and excessive acquiring.
DO YOU HAVE PROBLEMS WITH HOARDING?
Do you often collect things you don’t need?
Do you often avoid throwing things away because you’re afraid you might need them later?
Are you bothered by the amount of clutter in your home?
Note: If you answered yes to any or all of these questions you could be experiencing problems with compulsive hoarding. To determine whether or not you are experiencing significant impairment from these symptoms please call our clinic for an evaluation with one of our mental health professionals.