I attended a training recently on the topic of hoarding. This included an overview of the research findings from the past 20 years.

I wanted to pass along a few insights that I find interesting – this is the simple version and I am leaving out a whole lot of details.

  • Outdated thinking (not true):
    • The person is lazy
    • Hoarding always means compromised health & safety for the individual
    • Hoarding is a form of OCD
  • Typically occurs with:
    • ADD/ADHD
    • anxiety disorders
    • major depression
  • At the beginning
    • typically starts age 11-15
    • rarely after age 25
    • takes years to become visible issue (time to accumulate)
    • likely both genetic and learned components (nature and nurture)
  • Treatment
    • Majority of treatment needs to take place in the affected space, not counselor’s office
    • ‘Quick fix’ (cleaning without treatment) is harmful – usually perpetuates the problem or make it worse
    • weekly sessions over 6-12 months is typical
    • similarities to addictions and 12-step process may be helpful
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