Hoarding by Any Name is a Big Problem

Hoarding is an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in its own way and not just a symptom of OCD. It is so much more than collecting things. It is a condition that breaks family apart and now it is getting a revised definition in psychiatric terms. This should in turn lead to increased provision of help for the millions of Americans living with this condition.

It is to be hoped that with proper treatment ,TV documentary makers will have to find a different debilitating human weakness to turn into prurient entertainment. The key thing about the new definition is that it separates ‘hoarding’ as a specific condition from the generic description of obsessive compulsive behaviors. The new definition appears in the most up to date edition of the ‘bible’ for psychiatrists, the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DMS).

Hoarding humor, joke, funny stuff

Hoarding Disorder?

“Hoarding disorder” is now listed as “persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value.” When the label is changed on any illness it has huge ramifications for healthcare providers and insurers, but much more importantly it makes getting treatment easier. Currently there are very few doctors who know what to do when faced with the easily recognized mental health problem. Now that it has been clearly recognized in the DSM, all doctors will have to bone up on the symptoms and the treatments.

Hoarding isn’t simply about a person’s living space being buried under a mountain of useless stuff, although this is the most visible tip of the ‘junkberg’. The APA recognises that people with the condition suffer badly and so do their families. It is a slow social death accompanied by dreadful emotional and physical chronic effects. A ‘normal’ life is not possible for a hoarder and their loved ones.

There are around 4,000,000, that’s million, hoarders in the USA today. But this is a conservative estimate. Other psychiatrists estimate 15 million which is an even bigger and scarier number. The new recognition may lead to improved treatment but it is a long way off and a cure is a distant glimmer of hope. It is not yet known whether there are ‘psycho-drugs’ that can ameliorate the worst symptoms. The inclusion in the DSM means research will get under way to discover if this is possible. ‘Big Pharma’ will always get interested in a condition that is so well labelled and visible. The ‘hoarding’ insert will be in the DSM published in spring 2013.

Asperger’s Syndrome Is Being Deleted?

While hoarding goes in to the DSM, ‘Asperger’s syndrome’ is being deleted. It will be known as “disruptive mood dysregulation disorder”. Of course the symptoms do not change. They are most obviously the acute, abnormally so, fits of unreasonable temper that are frequent occurrences. The syndrome will now be listed under the autism spectrum disorder. This change will mean more accurate and consistent diagnoses of children and thereby better treatment. The previous inadequate definition has led to what many feel is a ‘false’ epidemic of autism.

Claire Al-Aufi

Claire Al-Aufi is a contributing author for Hive Health Media who provides updates on health and fitness news.

One thought on “Hoarding by Any Name is a Big Problem

  • January 10, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    I think you have to watch the show Hoarders to get a real understanding of this disease. I feel so sorry for the people who suffer with it.


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