Ask the Doctors: CBT Often Helps Those with Hoarding Disorder

By Ashley, Robert | The Billings Gazette (Billings, MT), June 2, 2017 | Go to article overview

Ask the Doctors: CBT Often Helps Those with Hoarding Disorder


Ashley, Robert, The Billings Gazette (Billings, MT)


Dear Doctor: I'm a 77-year-old woman, and I'm a hoarder. Well, maybe I'm a hoarder. Or maybe I'm just lazy or even a procrastinator. Regardless, how can I get myself in gear?

Dear Reader: Hoarding behavior has only recently been recognized as a disorder. According to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, six criteria must be present for someone to be diagnosed with hoarding disorder:

1) The person must have difficulty parting with an item, regardless of its value;

2) The person feels a need to save the item, and has distress upon discarding it;

3) Such items lead to clutter of the living areas;

4) The hoarding causes decreased socializing, affects work or can lead to dangerous situations in the home;

5) The disorder is not caused by a brain disorder;

6) The disorder is not caused by depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder or schizophrenia.

Under this classification, hoarding disorder affects about 1.5 percent of people. Older people are more prone to hoarding disorder, as are those who are unemployed or single. People with hoarding disorder are also more likely to have depression, anxiety, panic and post-traumatic stress disorder. Hoarders are more likely to be perfectionists than non-hoarders, but are also likely to be procrastinators, avoidant and indecisive. Lastly, studies of identical twins have found a substantial genetic factor for hoarding behavior.

Obviously, I don't know the degree of your hoarding behavior or even if you fit the criteria of hoarding disorder. Hoarders may have a strong sentimental attachment to the objects they possess or may feel that the object has some value -- either for its aesthetics or for its potential use. …

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