This syndrome has three main features: severe anxiety prevents patients from throwing out seemingly worthless items; they're prone to acquiring things, which sometimes leads them into buying sprees; and there's excessive clutter in their homes and work spaces, according to background information in a news release.
Indecisiveness, procrastination and disorganization are other symptoms of the syndrome.
Compulsive hoarding, which may affect up to 2 million people in the United States, is often found in patients with other diseases, including dementia, Alzheimer's, schizophrenia and anorexia. It's most often seen in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Researchers aren't certain whether compulsive hoarding is a subtype of OCD or a separate disorder.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, included 79 patients with OCD. Of those patients, 32 had compulsive hoarding syndrome.
The researchers found that both the hoarding and non-hoarding patients showed significant improvements in their symptoms when they were treated with Paxil, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).
The findings suggest that further controlled trials of SSRI drug treatment for compulsive hoarding are warranted, the researchers said. The study was published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.
The Obsessive Compulsive Foundation has more about compulsive hoarding.
SOURCE: University of California