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Compulsive hoarding disorder is a type ofobsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) characterized by accumulation of objectswithout a value and difficulty to discard accumulated things. Because of this,compulsive hoarding is also known as “pathological collecting”. This conditiondoesn’t refer to a simple mess in a home but the collected clutter takes overthe homes of people with hoarding OCD making their living space unusable andactivities like cooking and showering impossible.

Apart from obsessive-compulsive disorder, hoarding canindicate other mental health problems such as schizophrenia, mentalretardation, eating disorders, dementia, psychosis, attention deficit disorderand depression. However, people with OCD most commonly suffer from hoardingdisorder.

Symptoms of Hoarding Disorder

People with compulsive hoarding disorder obsessively collectall sorts of things that cannot later discard believing they might beeventually needed. Hoarders are often called “packed rats” by others. Thesepeople become excessively attached to possessions and may even keep stacks oftrash, newspapers and junk mail. Patients with compulsive hoarding disorder isemotionally attached to possessions and don’t want to let other touch orborrow their stuff. Homes of hoarders can be filled to capacity that obstructsthe common use of rooms. When there is no more space in the house, clutter mayspread to a garage, yard and vehicle. Hoarders often suffer from compulsiveshopping too. Impulsive acquisitiveness can in some cases lead to kleptomaniaor stealing. Hoarders usually have trouble making decisions, especially relatedto piled things, and difficulty organizing. They are usually perfectionistsand socially withdrawn. People withhoarding disorder usually feel embarrassed because of their immense clutter andbecome isolated. Some people even hoard animals in their homes. Keeping dozensor hundreds of animals inside the house leads to living in unsanitaryconditions and represents health hazard. Additionally, symptom of hoarding isabnormal grooming behavior like nail biting, skin picking, and compulsivehair-pulling.

Causes

Exact cause for compulsive hoarding disorder is unknown andthis condition can affect any person, regardless of age and gender. Onset of hoardingis usually in early adolescence and with age it tends to get worse. Hoardingcan run in families thereby a person with family history of hoarding disorderis at high risk. Hoarding can be triggered by severe emotional stress such asdeath of a loved one or divorce.

People with hoarding disorder are usually unaware of theircondition and don’t believe they need to be treated. Treatment for hoarding isusually difficult because the condition is not quite understood yet. Thetreatment of hoarding is the same as of OCD and involves medications and cognitive-behaviortherapy. However, patients with hoarding disorder do not respond well to the conventionaltreatment of OCD and have to be specifically designed according to individualcase.

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