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Hoarding Disorder

Hoarding is a relatively new mental health disorder that received its own diagnostic guidelines in the DSM-V that was published in May of 2013. Previously it had been listed as a symptom of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and was referred to as Compulsive Hoarding. The American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists Hoarding Disorder independently of OCD and defines it as persistent difficulty discarding and or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value. Giving hoarding this independent listing has eased access to treatment for those suffering from the disorder.

Millions of Americans are affected by Hoarding Disorder, and these individuals, as well as their families, suffer negative social, emotional, and physical effects to the point where there is a disruption of normal life. Individuals suffering from Hoarding Disorder acquire, and fail to discard, possessions that appear to be useless or of limited value. When it is clinically significant enough to impair functioning, hoarding can prevent typical uses of space so as to limit activities such as cooking, cleaning, moving through the house, and sleeping. It can also be dangerous if it puts the individual or others at risk from fire, falling, poor sanitation, and other health concerns.

People who hoard often don’t see it as a problem, making treatment challenging, but intensive treatment can help people who hoard understand their compulsions and live safe, more enjoyable lives. The disorder is regarded by professionals as being complex and difficult to treat. Though increasingly, a multi-pronged approach involving different agencies and specializations is gaining credence.

Sources: National Institute of Mental Health

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