ADHD linked to hoarding behavior – new study

New research has found that people with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are much more likely to display hoarding behaviors as well, which can have a serious impact on their quality of life.

The study, published in the Psychiatric Research Journal and funded by the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust, found that nearly one in five people with ADHD had clinically significant levels of hoarding, indicating that there may be a hidden population of adults struggling with hoarding and its consequences.

Hoarding disorder is a recognized condition that involves excessive hoarding, difficulty throwing away, and excessive clutter. The disorder can cause distress or difficulty in daily life and can contribute to depression and anxiety.

Previous research on hoarding disorder has primarily focused on older women who identify as hoarders and seek help later in life. This new study, led by Dr Sharon Morein of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), recruited 88 participants from an adult ADHD clinic run by the Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.

The study found that 19% of this ADHD group had clinically significant hoarding symptoms, were on average in their 30s, and there was an even gender split. Among the remaining 81%, the researchers found greater severity of hoarding, but not to a degree that significantly impairs their lives, compared to the control group in the study.

The researchers asked the same questions, about ADHD symptoms and impulsivity, levels of hoarding and clutter, obsessive-compulsive severity, perfectionism, depression and anxiety, and daily function, to a group closely matched population of 90 adults from the general population, without ADHD. diagnosis, and found that only 2% of this control group had clinically significant symptoms of hoarding.

They then replicated this with a wider online sample of 220 UK adults to see if similar patterns were found, and similarly only 3% of this group showed symptoms.

Dr Morein, Associate Professor of Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said: “Hoarding disorder is much more than simply collecting too many possessions. People with diagnosed hoarding disorder have filled their living spaces with so many items and clutter that it impacts their daily functioning, leading to poorer quality of life, anxiety and depression.

“Overall, we found that people who were diagnosed with ADHD had a higher likelihood of also having symptoms of hoarding. This is important because it demonstrates that hoarding doesn’t just affect people more later in life, which are generally the focus of much of the research on hoarding disorder thus far.

“Our results also indicate that hoarding disorder should be routinely assessed in people with ADHD, as they typically do not disclose associated difficulties despite these potentially interfering with their daily lives. Similarly, it is possible that many people currently being treated for hoarding disorder also have undiagnosed ADHD.

“Greater awareness among clinicians and people with ADHD of the link between ADHD and hoarding may also lead to more effective long-term management, as hoarding often gets progressively worse over time.”


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