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Compulsive Hoarding

QUESTION: What is compulsive hoarding?


Compulsive hoarding afflicts up to forty percent of the seven to eight million Americans who suffer with obsessive compulsive disorder. Bags of clothing, newspapers, and lists are just some of the items that hoarders fill their houses. Often, every space in the house is filled to the ceiling with the hoarder’s treasures. Most hoarders don’t think that they have a problem and only after an eviction or family intervention is the problem brought to life.

Seniors over 60 seem to have the most cluttering problems. Their reasons for hoarding are varied, ranging from believing others will steal their possessions, saving items for their children, and having lost touch with reality. The most serious cases often live in unsanitary conditions. When code officials and social services are called in, a senior can forfeit their right to independent living.

Hoarders rarely respond to serotonin enhancers like Prozac, Luvox, or other standard drugs used to treat obsessive compulsive disorder, although new drugs are always being developed. Families are involved in the treatment process and encouraged to talk to the doctor or therapists, read books on the subject, and go to therapy sessions with the patient. Hoarding affects every member of the family and disrupts the normal routine. Teaching families to have a non-judgmental approach toward treatment and the hoarding behavior will greatly increase the chances that the treatment will succeed.

Clutterers Anonymous relies on the twelve step approach that Alcoholics Anonymous uses. Some of the steps are:
  • Come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.
  • Be entirely ready to do the will of God as they understand it
  • Humbly ask God to remove shortcomings
  • Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of practicing the twelve steps, will carry the message to others, and practice what they have learned in their daily lives.
God invites us to bring our problems to Him. No problem is too big or small for Him to handle. Matthew 6:8- “Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”

Learn More About Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

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