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Feature Article

Hoarding disorder: cutting through the clutter

Jessica R Grisham, Peter A Baldwin

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Abstract

With a prevalence of 2 to 6%, hoarding disorder is common and causes significant impairment to patients and their families. Evidence-based tools are available for diagnosing and assessing the severity of hoarding disorder. Cognitive behavioural therapy is the primary evidence-based treatment.

Key Points

  • Hoarding disorder (HD) is characterised by extreme attachment to possessions and difficulties with discarding, which render living areas unusable and cause the individual significant impairment and distress.
  • GPs are likely to be the first point of contact for individuals and families affected by hoarding; they should distinguish HD from conditions such as dementia and consider common comorbidities such as anxiety and mood disorders.
  • Patients who request treatment should be referred to a mental health specialist.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy is the primary evidence-based treatment for HD; self-help resources may also assist patients and families.
  • GPs can play a key role in managing pharmacotherapy, where indicated.

    Picture credit: © Michael Maloney/Corbis.

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