People with a hoarding disorder do not always view their hoarding as a problem. They may refuse help and scoff at the idea of treatment for their disorder. Removing the excess items rather than providing hoarding disorder treatment may cause the person to experience setbacks and they may quickly replace the items. Hoarding treatment includes addressing the thoughts and behaviors involved with hoarding and in some cases, taking medication to reduce symptoms of co-occurring disorders.
Therapy Options for Hoarding
Hoarding therapy must address the reasons a person hoards to ensure long-term recovery. Without resolving underlying issues, hoarding counseling might be ineffective. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most common approach for treating a hoarding disorder. During CBT a person might identify faulty or unhelpful beliefs that cause hoarding, challenge them and then replace them with new ideas. CBT may also involve teaching a person with a hoarding disorder how to resist the compulsion to continue acquiring objects and how to determine whether a possession needs to be saved.
Medications for Hoarding
There is no single medication for hoarding. Instead, medication is used to treat co-occurring depression and anxiety. These conditions may have developed before the hoarding disorder did and caused the hoarding disorder to be exacerbated, or they may have developed as a result of the hoarding.
The most commonly used medicine for hoarding disorder is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs increase the amount of serotonin in the brain, serotonin is the hormone that causes feelings of happiness and pleasure. These kinds of medications are typically prescribed to treat depression. In addition to SSRIs, some other anti-depressants that are used to treat OCD include:
- Clomipramine (Anafranil)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
Treating Hoarding and Co-Occurring Conditions
People with a hoarding disorder may have an additional mental health disorder. Some of the most common co-occurring disorders include depression and anxiety. It is important to treat both disorders simultaneously to avoid any setbacks with either disorder. Treatment for a hoarding and co-occurring disorder will typically involve psychotherapy and medication. The treatment plan will vary depending on a hoarding disorder patient’s co-occurring disorder as well as other factors. Some examples of factors that treatment providers take into consideration when creating a treatment plan include the patient’s:
- Co-occurring disorder
- Health and social needs (family relationships, overall health)
- Goals for recovery and after plan
- Additional threats to sobriety (learning or physical disabilities, chronic disorders)
The goal of a treatment provider is to establish a treatment plan that is individualized for a specific patient so that co-occurring disorders can be addressed and treated.
Hoarding and Substance Abuse
Research shows that hoarding frequently co-occurs with substance use disorders. Some researchers estimate that more than half of people with a hoarding disorder meet the criteria for a substance use disorder.
Treatment professionals often use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to treat both mental health and substance use disorders because this type of therapy helps patients identify negative behavior, challenge it and change their way of thinking. In addition to CBT, clinicians may also use other therapies as well as medication to manage a patient’s symptoms.
If you or someone you know struggles with a substance use and co-occurring disorder like hoarding, help is available. At The Recovery Village, a team of professionals establishes an individualized treatment plan for patients who have substance use and co-occurring disorders. Call and speak with a representative to learn about which program could work for you.