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Letter to the Editor   |    
Dr. Saxena Replies
SANJAYA SAXENA, M.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2005;162:1031-a-1032. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.162.5.1031-a

To the Editor: My associates and I thank Dr. Amdur for his comments on our recent publication. His letter raises several important issues regarding the diagnostic classification of the compulsive hoarding syndrome.

We agree with Dr. Amdur’s contention that compulsive hoarding should be removed from the diagnostic criteria for obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. Only 15%–45% of hoarders meet criteria for obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (1, 2). No correlation was found between hoarding severity and scores on an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder scale (3). Instead, hoarding behaviors correlate significantly with other OCD symptoms (3).

Dr. Amdur suggests that compulsive hoarders may not meet DSM-IV-TR criteria for OCD because they appear to suffer more from their inaction than from repetitive behaviors. However, compulsive hoarders have been found to have many repetitive acquisition and saving behaviors (3). While DSM-IV-TR does not explicitly mention compulsive hoarding as a symptom of OCD, hoarding and saving-related obsessions and compulsions are quite common in patients with OCD (4, 5) and are included in standard OCD assessments, such as the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale symptom checklist (6). Dr. Amdur observes that compulsive hoarders do not appear to have anxiety unless they are threatened by forced clearing, but several studies have found elevated anxiety levels in compulsive hoarders, even in comparison to nonhoarding OCD patients (7, 8). Moreover, hoarders also report a high prevalence of nonhoarding obsessions and compulsions (2, 3) and do not differ from nonhoarding OCD patients in the number of OCD symptoms reported on the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale checklist or overall score (7, 8).

Nevertheless, the question remains: Should compulsive hoarding be classified as a symptom subtype of OCD or as a separate disorder that is frequently comorbid with OCD? Factors that support a separate classification include significant differences between hoarders and nonhoarding OCD patients in comorbidity and family history (2), response to serotonin reuptake inhibitors (9), and the distinct functional brain abnormalities found in our recent study. Neuropsychological, brain imaging, and genetic studies comparing compulsive hoarders to nonhoarding OCD patients will be required to resolve this issue.

Reprints are not available; however, Letters to the Editor can be downloaded at http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org.

Winsberg ME, Cassic KS, Koran LM: Hoarding in obsessive-compulsive disorder: a report of 20 cases. J Clin Psychiatry  1999; 60:591–597
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Samuels J, Bienvenu OJ, Riddle MA, Cullen BAM, Grados MA, Liang KY, Hoehn-Saric R, Nestadt G: Hoarding in obsessive-compulsive disorder: results from a case-control study. Behav Res Ther  2002; 40:517–528
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Frost RO, Gross RC: The hoarding of possessions. Behav Res Ther  1993; 31:367–381
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Rasmussen S, Eisen JL: The epidemiology and clinical features of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Psychiatr Clin North Am  1992; 15:743–758
[PubMed]
 
Hanna GL: Demographic and clinical features of obsessive-compulsive disorder in children and adolescents. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry  1995; 34:19–27
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Goodman WK, Price LH, Rasmussen SA, Mazure C, Fleischmann RL, Hill CL, Heninger GR, Charney DS: The Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale, I: development, use, and reliability. Arch Gen Psychiatry  1989; 46:1006–1011
[PubMed]
 
Frost RO, Steketee G, Williams LF, Warren R: Mood, personality disorder symptoms, and disability in obsessive compulsive hoarders: a comparison with clinical and non-clinical controls. Behav Res Ther  2000; 38:1071–1081
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Saxena S, Maidment KM, Vapnik T, Golden G, Rishwain T, Rosen RM, Tarlow G, Bystritsky A: Obsessive-compulsive hoarding: symptom severity and response to multi-modal treatment. J Clin Psychiatry  2002; 63:21–27
[CrossRef]
 
Mataix-Cols D, Rauch SL, Manzo PA, Jenike MA, Baer L: Use of factor-analyzed symptom dimensions to predict outcome with serotonin reuptake inhibitors and placebo in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Am J Psychiatry  1999; 156:1409–1416
[PubMed]
 
+

References

Winsberg ME, Cassic KS, Koran LM: Hoarding in obsessive-compulsive disorder: a report of 20 cases. J Clin Psychiatry  1999; 60:591–597
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Samuels J, Bienvenu OJ, Riddle MA, Cullen BAM, Grados MA, Liang KY, Hoehn-Saric R, Nestadt G: Hoarding in obsessive-compulsive disorder: results from a case-control study. Behav Res Ther  2002; 40:517–528
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Frost RO, Gross RC: The hoarding of possessions. Behav Res Ther  1993; 31:367–381
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Rasmussen S, Eisen JL: The epidemiology and clinical features of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Psychiatr Clin North Am  1992; 15:743–758
[PubMed]
 
Hanna GL: Demographic and clinical features of obsessive-compulsive disorder in children and adolescents. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry  1995; 34:19–27
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Goodman WK, Price LH, Rasmussen SA, Mazure C, Fleischmann RL, Hill CL, Heninger GR, Charney DS: The Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale, I: development, use, and reliability. Arch Gen Psychiatry  1989; 46:1006–1011
[PubMed]
 
Frost RO, Steketee G, Williams LF, Warren R: Mood, personality disorder symptoms, and disability in obsessive compulsive hoarders: a comparison with clinical and non-clinical controls. Behav Res Ther  2000; 38:1071–1081
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Saxena S, Maidment KM, Vapnik T, Golden G, Rishwain T, Rosen RM, Tarlow G, Bystritsky A: Obsessive-compulsive hoarding: symptom severity and response to multi-modal treatment. J Clin Psychiatry  2002; 63:21–27
[CrossRef]
 
Mataix-Cols D, Rauch SL, Manzo PA, Jenike MA, Baer L: Use of factor-analyzed symptom dimensions to predict outcome with serotonin reuptake inhibitors and placebo in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Am J Psychiatry  1999; 156:1409–1416
[PubMed]
 
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