Medical Definition of Pathological hoarding

Reviewed on 3/29/2021

Pathological hoarding: Excessive hoarding of material goods, a condition that affects up to 40% of people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Excessive hoarders, who fill their houses with accumulations of junk, usually newspapers, bags of old clothing and lists, tend to experience more anxiety, depression and social disability than OCD patients with other symptoms. Hoarders are also less likely to seek help.

Pathological hoarders have decreased activity in the anterior cingulate, a brain structure involved in decision making and problem solving, compared with people with other OCD symptoms. The hoarders also show less activation than the healthy subjects in the posterior cingulate, an area involved in spatial orientation, memory and emotion. Hoarding may therefore have a distinctive basis in brain activity.



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