Question: My 46 year old brother collects junk to the point where he has lost his wife and job, and the city has fined him and made him go to court. Nothing wakes him up. Is this a symptom of OCD? Is it treatable by medication or psychiatrist?
Answer 1: Yes, it’s a symptom of OCD called hoarding. It can be treated with behavior therapy, and medication can help the process along. The primary difficulty in treating hoarding is when the hoarder doesn’t see any problem and doesn’t want to change. Unfortunately, this is fairly common. Continued near the bottom of this page.
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Answer 2: Some but not all people who collect junk or hoard things have OCD. The treatment is very difficult and although medication may be some help it is not going to make a big difference by itself. Cognitive behavioral therapy specifically designed to deal with this problem has been described and can be effective. Findings someone who knows how to do this type of work is very difficult.
Answer 3: Your brother could have a type of OCD known as compulsive hoarding. Yes there is treatment. Certain medications generally effective with OCD may help your brother’s hoarding, but he will likely need behavior therapy as well. However, he is unlikely to do well in therapy if he does not perceive his behavior as problematic. It is sometimes the family that has to pressure the hoarder to seek help.
Answer 4: Your brother’s problem sounds a lot like a type of OCD we call compulsive hoarding. It is treatable via medication and also via behavioral therapy in the form of Exposure and Response Prevention. Find a psychiatrist who is experienced in treating OCD, and also a psychologist who is a well qualified behavioral therapist. Sometimes you can get good referrals through local OCD support groups. Your brother will first need to get a proper diagnosis, to make sure it really is OCD, and then will have to follow treatment for some time to come, with both types of practitioners. Best wishes!
Answer 3: Hi. This sounds like compulsive hoarding. This is very hard to treat. In my experience, medications often help the frequently co-morbid depression, but not the hoarding. The only hope is to get him to agree to behavior therapy which usually must take place in the home to have any hope of success. Hoarding is a very difficult problem since the patients see value in their “junk” and don’t want to give it up.