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Original Research

Hoarding in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Report of 20 Cases

Mirène E. Winsberg, Kristen S. Cassic, and Lorrin M. Koran

Published: September 30, 1999

Article Abstract

Background: We describe the demographic characteristics, hoarding phenomenology, comorbid disorders, family histories, and treatment response of 20 adult obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) patients exhibiting hoarding behavior.

Method: We utilized the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R, the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale, and a semistructured interview to gather data.

Results: We studied 9 women and 11 men. Their hoarding began from age 5 years to age 46 years (mean ± SD age at onset = 20 ± 11 years); hoarding was evident before the onset of other OCD symptoms in 9 patients. The most commonly hoarded items were newspapers and magazines, junk mail, old clothes, notes or lists, and old receipts. Hoarded material occupied from one room plus most or all closets to more than one room plus all closets, the garage, and yard. Seven patients rented additional storage space for hoarded items. Eighty-four percent of patients reported a family history of hoarding, and 80% grew up in a household where someone else hoarded. The most frequent primary motives for hoarding were fears of discarding something useful and discarding something that would be needed in the future. Lifetime prevalence of major depression and of impulse-control disorders, especially compulsive shopping, were high; only 3 patients met DSM-IV criteria for obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. Response of hoarding to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors was less robust than is expected for obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Conclusion: Whether hoarding behaviors mark a subset of obsessive-compulsive disorder patients with a different pathophysiology or functional anatomy deserves investigation.

Volume: 60

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