Compulsive hoarding syndrome causes a person to keep all of their possessions because they find it difficult to give them away. A person with this condition feels stress whenever they have to give up an item, no matter the value. This condition often causes people to have very messy homes due to the collection of too many possessions. Depending on the severity of the condition, it may affect a person’s daily life. Some people with compulsive hoarding syndrome even collect an excessive amount of animals. Because of the significant amount of animals collected, proper care is not usually provided which typically creates an unhealthy environment for both the person and the animals.
Symptoms of the disorder include extreme attachment to possessions, cluttered living spaces, collecting unnecessary items (such as excess napkins from a restaurant), or limited interaction with other people. There is no known cause for compulsive hoarding syndrome, but a person’s genetic makeup, brain chemistry, and a history of stressful events may play a role. Risk factors include old age (hoarding is more common in older adults), having an indecisive personality, having a family history, and social isolation.
In order to diagnose compulsive hoarding disorder, a doctor will likely perform a psychological evaluation. To receive a diagnosis of compulsive hoarding disorder, a person must meet specific criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which is determined by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Treatment of compulsive hoarding syndrome is often difficult because many affected individuals do not recognize that they have a disorder. The two main methods of treatment are psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, and medications, usually antidepressants. If you or someone you know have symptoms of compulsive hoarding syndrome, talk with your doctor to discuss treatment options.