I receive a number of e-mails from readers asking for personal help or help for friends and family members who suffer from compulsive hoarding. Whenever these requests come into my inbox, I feel a sense of helplessness because all I can do is guide them to other resources. Compulsive hoarding is a psychological and medical condition, similar to obsessive compulsive disorder, and requires treatment from a licensed, medical professional.
The magazine Psychology Today approximates that 2 million U.S. residents suffer from compulsive hoarding disorder. This diagnosis is usually made based on results to one or more of the following tests: The Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS), the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS), the Hamilton Anxiety Scale (Ham-A), the Global Assessment Scale (GAS), or the Clinical Global Impression/Improvement (CGI) scale. Psychiatrists and medical doctors make the official diagnosis, but, unfortunately, too many cases go undiagnosed.
A report published in June of 2006 in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found evidence that “SRI [serotonin reuptake inhibitors] medications are effective for compulsive hoarding,” and so many compulsive hoarders are finding help for their disorder with a combination of psychotherapy and SRIs. If you know someone who is a compulsive hoarder, I strongly recommend that you encourage them to seek medical treatment so that they can find some relief from this debilitating disorder.
If you’re interested in learning more about compulsive hoarding, the TLC network has a special called, “Help! I’m a Hoarder!” that will air again on August 10, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. The show explores the symptoms and treatments of compulsive hoarding disorder. From the TLC’s website:
“More than a million Americans suffer from disposophobia – the fear of throwing anything away. Meet three individuals who face the devastating effects of compulsive hoarding. You’ll never look at your clutter in the same way again.”
This special aired last September, and my understanding is the August 10 episode is a re-broadcast of last year’s program. I can’t find documentation on TLC’s website to know for certain. So, if you missed the show last year, let me definitely recommend that you tune in this year to learn more about this paralyzing condition.