Friday, May 11, 2007
Medical Reports: HEALTHCAST: Compulsive Clutter Disorder
Are things piling up around your home? Do you feel like you can never throw anything away? Well, it may not just be that you're a pack rat. Seven's Christine Cruz tells us about a condition called Compulsive Clutter Disorder -- and how you can stop it.
WSVN -- Shawn Mowad's garage is, well, a mess.
"I've got lots of boxes in here."
And this is her living room. At least here she tries to hide most of her clutter, but still knows its there.
Shawn Mowad: "It's embarrassing, like, if your house, if there's piles everywhere, and it's just a total mess, and then you don't want to have friends or family over."
Shawn is suffering from what doctors are calling compulsive hoarding, which is the need to hold on to everything.
The disorder is affecting up to two million Americans to some degree.
And it can be linked to obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, social anxiety and schizophrenia.
Shawn Mowad: "The anxiety is just monumental, and I feel absolutely sick to my stomach, and I just think, 'Oh, my gosh, what was thrown away? What was important in there?'"
Dr. Sanjaya Saxena says people like Shawn actually have less activity in the area of the brain that's responsible for making decisions.
Dr. Sanjaya Saxena: "Making fairly straightforward decisions about what to keep and what to throw away, these folks may have really serious trouble with."
But now doctors say antidepressants known as SRIs along with therapy sessions, are significantly improving patients' hoarding tendencies.
Dr. Sanjaya Saxena: "They decrease the anxiety and the distress produced by the indecisiveness or the obsessions."
And, so far, it has been working for Shawn.
Shawn Mowad: "You're more clear-headed, and now you really can think, 'OK, you know, I really don't need this.'"
She still has a lot to clean up but is looking forward to finally having a clutter-free home with her family.
You should have a medical evaluation to be diagnosed with compulsive hoarding.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
UCSD Obsessive Compulsive Disorders Clinic
San Diego, CA