Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hoarding Illness Can Devastate Families

Everyone saves mementos of what's important to them -- a child's first birthday card, a Super Bowl ticket stub -- but when does an attachment to items cross the line into hoarding?

Hoarding is a mental illness -- a subset of obsessive compulsive disorder. New research indicates it may effect as many as 5 percent of all Americans.

Elaine Wagner is a hoarder, and she told Channel 4 Action News anchor Sally Wiggin that she loves watching the "Hoarders" reality show on television.

"It reminds me of where I was, and I got to keep doing it or I can get like that again," Wagner said. "It started when my kids were little, growing up. They couldn't bring their friends home. It got worse and worse when they left -- the empty nest thing."

Hoarding is inherited and begins in childhood, said Dr. Robert Hudak, a psychiatrist with UPMC.

"Early adolescence is when hoarding starts, and it doesn't become a severe problem at that point, because if you are a child or teenager, your parents can force you to clean up your room," Hudak said..." More