Hoarding (HD) has recently been added to the DSM-V as its own diagnosis. Previously thought to be associated with obsessive compulsion (OCD), HD is now considered an independent psychiatric condition that is characterized by a propensity to acquire items and a difficulty to discard things, even when they impair one’s living space, health, and quality of life. Most diagnoses of HD occur in adulthood, but recent research has suggested that HD often begins in adolescence. There is also a high rate of comorbidity thought to be present with HD, although evidence supporting this is inconsistent.
Therefore, Volen Z. Ivanov of the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden recently led a study assessing the prevalence of HD and symptoms of HD in a sample of 3,974 adolescent twin participants. Ivanov gathered self-reports on hoarding behavior and also evaluated parental reports of autism (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), and OCD present in the twin sample.
The results revealed that 2% of the participants exhibited hoarding symptoms. The females were more represented in this rate, suggesting that during adolescence, hoarding symptoms and hoarding behaviors are more prominent in girls than in boys. Although clutter was not significant for any of the participants with HD, Ivanov believes that clutter increases when children reach adulthood and acquire their own living space and have their own financial means. Acquiring items was also lower in this sample than in adults with HD. While only 30-40% of these children reported excessive acquisition, this behavior is present in nearly 85% of adults with HD. Again, Ivanov believes that this changes when children have their own income and their own living space.
With respect to comorbidity, the findings of this study did not show a higher level of comorbidity among the HD participants when compared to those without HD. Overall, 2.9% of the participants with HD had OCD and another 2.9% had comorbid ASD while 10% had ADHD and HD. In sum, these findings suggest that although there is comorbidity with HD, conditions that co-occur with HD are no more prevalent than in the general population and therefore, it is not directly linked with OCD, ASD or ADHD. Ivanov added, “Hoarding was rarely associated with other common neurodevelopmental [issues], supporting its DSM-5 status as an independent diagnosis.”
Ivanov, V.Z., Mataix-Cols, D., Serlachius, E., Lichtenstein, P., Anckarsäter, H., et al. (2013). Prevalence, comorbidity and heritability of hoarding symptoms in adolescence: A population based twin study in 15-year olds. PLoS ONE 8(7): e69140. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069140
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