Hoarding Symptoms in Late Life Depression are Associated With Greater Executive Dysfunction and Disability and Poorer Response to Depression Treatment

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2024 Feb;32(2):137-147. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2023.08.009. Epub 2023 Sep 1.


Objectives: Late life depression (LLD) and hoarding disorder (HD) are common in older adults and characterized by executive dysfunction and disability. We aimed to determine the frequency of co-occurring HD in LLD and examine hoarding severity as an additional contributor to executive dysfunction, disability, and response to psychotherapy for LLD.

Design: Cross-sectional.

Setting: Outpatient psychiatry program.

Participants: Eighty-three community-dwelling adults ages 65-90 with LLD.

Intervention: Problem-solving therapy.

Measurements: Measures of executive function, disability, depression, and hoarding severity were completed at post-treatment. Pearson's chi-squared tests evaluated group differences in rates of cognitive impairment, disability, and depression treatment response between participants with HD (LLD+HD) and LLD only. Separate linear regressions assessed associations between hoarding severity and executive function, disability, and psychotherapy response. Covariates included age, education, gender, and depression severity.

Results: 30.1% (25/83) of LLD participants met HD criteria. Relative to LLD, LLD+HD participants demonstrated greater impairment rates on measures of executive function (Letter-Number-Sequencing, X2(1)=4.0, p = 0.045; Stroop-Interference, X2(1) = 4.8, p = 0.028). Greater hoarding severity was associated with poorer executive functioning performance (Letter-Number-Sequencing (t[70] = -2.1, β = -0.05, p = 0.044), Digit-Span (t[71] = -2.4, β = -0.07, p = 0.019), Letter-Fluency (t[ 71] = -2.8, β = -0.24, p = 0.006)). Rates of disability were significantly higher for LLD+HD (88.0%) than LLD (62.3%), (X2[1] = 5.41, p = 0.020) and higher hoarding severity was related to greater disability (t[72] = 2.97, β = 0.13, p = 0.004). Depression treatment response rates were significantly lower for LLD+HD (24.0%) compared to LLD (48.3%), X2(1) = 4.26, p = 0.039, and HD status predicted psychotherapy response, t(67) = -2.15, β = -15.6, p = 0.035.

Conclusions: We found 30.1% co-occurrence of HD in LLD, which was accompanied by greater executive dysfunction, disability, and poorer response to depression treatment. Results underscore the need for increased screening of hoarding behaviors in LLD and tailored interventions for this LLD+HD group.

Keywords: Late life depression; disability; executive function; hoarding; psychotherapy; treatment response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / epidemiology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / therapy
  • Compulsive Behavior
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / therapy
  • Hoarding Disorder* / psychology
  • Hoarding Disorder* / therapy
  • Hoarding*
  • Humans