Hoarding symptoms are associated with higher rates of disability than other medical and psychiatric disorders across multiple domains

By Scott Cunningham, MD, PhD
Published October 17, 2022

Key Takeaways

  • Hoarding was shown to lead to disability in all domains of functioning, and even greater disability in patients with hoarding and major depressive disorder.

Putting It Into Practice

Historically, patients with hoarding disorder have been thought to have impairment limited to home tasks. Based on this study, however, hoarding was shown to have up to a 3-fold increased impairment of mobility and self-care and up to a 6-fold impairment of cognition and social functioning.

Of greater concern, patients with hoarding disorder often have a co-morbid mood disorder, in which case disability is even greater than either alone. Treatment should focus on both disorders; however, hoarding disorder is often undiagnosed and undertreated.

Why this study matters

Patients with hoarding disorder have been observed to have greater impairment than patients with other psychiatric disorders. In the current study, impairment in patients with hoarding disorder was shown to be greater than or equal to impairment in patients with major depressive disorder, diabetes mellitus, and chronic pain, all of which are in the top 10 causes of disability in the US.

Study design

Data were collected from the Brain Health Registry. The functional ability of patients who hoard were compared to patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder, diabetes mellitus, and chronic pain.

Results and conclusion

Of 16,312 adult participants, 5.7% each had clinical or sub-clinical symptoms of hoarding. Both groups of hoarders had impairment in all domains of functioning, and greater impairment than patients with major depressive disorder, diabetes mellitus, and chronic pain. As an example, 18.7% of patients with clinical symptoms of hoarding had difficulty with school or work compared to 11.8% of patients with major depressive disorder.

Original Source

Nutley SK, Read M, Martinez S, et al. Hoarding symptoms are associated with higher rates of disability than other medical and psychiatric disorders across multiple domains. BMC Psychiatry 2022; doi.org/10.1186/s12888-022-04287-2.

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