OCPD and Hoarding Food: 5 Ways to Stop Food Hoarding

Page content

Why People Hoard

Many OCPD people who hoard do not feel that it is a problem. They may think their hoarding behavior is sensible and that saving things is beneficial. Most cases of hoarding that are brought to professional attention are done so because of concerned family members, landlords or even the legal system. Hoarders seem to have more severe symptoms than others with OCPD.

The main reason people hoard is because of a fear that they may lose something important by discarding it. Giving away possessions can provoke grief-like reactions in hoarders. Fears of loss stem from an exaggerated responsibility of being prepared for eventualities and of not wanting to waste things.

Hoarders overestimate the threat of getting rid of a possession, fearing they will be unprepared or receive criticism from others. They also have trouble making even small decisions, like what to wear or eat. Since it does run in families, hoarding could be influenced by modeling behavior or transmitted genetically. Some suggest hoarding may be associated with deprivation in early life.

5 Ways OCPD People Can Stop Hoarding Food

OCPD and hoarding food has its own particular set of problems. Saving rotten food or contaminated food containers is a health hazard that can cause illness and attract pests. Treatment for hoarding food is similar to treating other hoarding practices.

1. According to the International Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation, a special type of cognitive behavior therapy has been developed to treat hoarding. Cognitive behavioral therapy is based on the theory that thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors, and when we change the way we view things, our feelings and behaviors will follow. The treatment focuses on excessive acquisition, difficulty of letting go of possessions and disorganization and clutter that impairs functioning. The treatment lasts 26 weeks and includes and a manual and workbook. At the end of treatment nearly 70 percent of hoarding clients were rated “much” or “very much” improved by their therapists.

2. Group therapy for hoarding usually includes 6 to 8 people who meet with a clinician weekly for 20 weeks. Group therapy helps reduce isolation and shame and increases motivation. Hearing the experiences of others and sharing your own can inspire hope. Groups cover how hoarding works, problem-solving and organizational skills, sorting and removing possessions, and learning how not to acquire more things.

3. The internet can help support hoarding interventions. There are internet self-help groups which provide a variety of resources for reducing clutter and learning to control acquiring. Participants can post action steps and progress toward their goals.

4. Medication can be a useful adjunct to treatment. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors help the OCPD patient with rigidity and compulsiveness which helps them to think more clearly. While it is not cure, it does help some OCPD patients function with less distress.

5. Self-Acceptance and Forgiveness. The more you are able to see that you are bigger than your conditions in life and more than the problems you have, the quicker you will be able to move toward your goal of tackling this disorder effectively.

It is important that the OCPD person learns about their illness and stick with whatever treatment is selected. In the case of food hoarding, good nutrition is paramount and ingesting food which is well past the expiration date should be stopped. Take small steps and don’t let yourself feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. Break it down into small segments and celebrate each success.