Question: A family member collects things (clothes others throw out, broken strollers from the street, doors from rehabbed apartments, etc.) and will throw nothing out. Her apartment is literally unusable because it is so full of junk. This has a serious impact on spouse and children. Is this OCD? Thanks Irene – South Lanarkshire.
Answer 1: Hi. Hoarding is a tough problem. I will send you a chapter on hoarding from our OCD book. It is treated with behavior therapy. Medication is not helpful for hoarding in my experience; although it will help depression that is commonly associated with hoarding for some reason. Continued near the bottom of this page.
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Answer 2: This could be OCD, or it could be a symptom of other conditions such as schizophrenia or dementia. Evaluation by a psychiatrist is in order. OCD is by far the most likely explanation, however. The spouse may have to insist that treatment be sought, since people with the hoarding form of OCD are often not bothered by their symptom and don’t see the need to change their behavior. If the children are adults, their pressure can be added.
Answer 3: This type of collecting of junk is usually a form of OCD generally referred to as hoarding. It is very difficult to treat and is most likely to respond to a cognitive behavioral therapy approach with a therapist who will make visits to the home as part of the treatment. Medication may make the person more responsive to CBT but is unlikely to do much by itself.
Answer 4: This behavior certainly sounds like OCD hoarding, but several other psychiatric/neurological conditions are sometimes associated with such behavior.
Answer 5: The best way to obtain a clinical assessment for OCD is via an office visit with a trained mental health professional. By this means, a comprehensive history can be taken, so that other disorders can also be considered. Nonetheless, the symptoms you describe are quite consistent with a diagnosis of OCD. In particular, these sound like hoarding symptoms. If the behavior causes the person and/or their family distress, it is advisable to consider a formal clinical evaluation. I hope this information is helpful.
Answer 6: This is certainly hoarding behavior and it sounds like it is quite debilitating. Such problems usually stem from a combination of excessive attachment to and identification with objects, difficulty with categorizing and organizing objects and information, distress and avoidance of discarding items and also distress and inability to control the urge to collect items the person desires, even when collecting them would be detrimental. Treatment can be sought from someone familiar with OCD. Unfortunately, motivation for treatment is often a problem for people with hoarding problems.
Answer 7: This sounds like a description of an OCD behavior called “hoarding.” This behavior is sometimes more difficult to treat than other forms of OCD, but an evaluation by a psychiatrist to see if medication is warranted along with behavior therapy may be helpful. Often the person who has this behavior does not feel it is a problem, which makes it more difficult to get them to seek help.