Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Treatment of hoarding is often a challenge that meets with mixed success. For one thing, many people who hoard don't recognize the negative impact of hoarding on their lives or don't believe they need treatment. This is especially true if their possessions or animals offer comfort. And people whose animals or possessions are taken away will often quickly collect more to help fulfill emotional needs.

Try to find a therapist or other mental health provider who has experience in treating hoarding. While therapy can be intense and time-consuming, it can pay off in the long run.

There are two main types of treatment for hoarding — psychotherapy and medications.

Psychotherapy

Cognitive behavior therapy is the most common form of psychotherapy used to treat hoarding. As part of cognitive behavior therapy, you may:

  • Explore why you feel compelled to hoard
  • Learn to organize and categorize possessions to help you decide which ones to discard
  • Improve your decision-making skills
  • Declutter your home during in-home visits by a therapist or professional organizer
  • Learn and practice relaxation skills
  • Attend family or group therapy
  • Be encouraged to consider psychiatric hospitalization if your hoarding is severe
  • Have periodic visits or ongoing treatment to help you keep up healthy habits

Medications

Research continues on the most effective ways to use medications in the treatment of hoarding. The medications most commonly used for hoarding are a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as paroxetine (Paxil). However, not everyone responds to this treatment.

May. 25, 2011