Compulsive hoarding includes ALL three of the following:
Hoarding behaviors can begin as early as the teenage years, although the average age of a person seeking treatment for hoarding is about 50. Hoarders often endure a lifelong struggle with hoarding. They tend to live alone and may have a family member with the problem. It seems likely that serious hoarding problems are present in at least one in 50 people, but they may be present in as many as one in 20.
Most often, people hoard common possessions, such as paper (e.g., mail, newspapers), books, clothing and containers (e.g., boxes, paper and plastic bags). Some people hoard garbage or rotten food. More rarely, people hoard animals or human waste products. Often the items collected are valuable but far in excess of what can reasonably be used.
In hoarding, people seldom seek to display their possessions, which are usually kept in disarray. In collecting, people usually proudly display their collections and keep them well organized.
Yes, compulsive hoarding can be treated. Unfortunately it has not responded well to the usual treatments that work for OCD. Strategies to treat hoarding include:
Medicines alone does not appear to reduce hoarding behavior. However, they may help reduce the symptoms. Medicines can be used to treat conditions that may make hoarding worse, like depression and anxiety.
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