Hoarding Disorder: What Is It?

Reviewed Nov 10, 2017

Close

E-mail Article

Complete form to e-mail article…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

Separate multiple recipients with a comma

Close

Sign-Up For Newsletters

Complete this form to sign-up for newsletters…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

 

Summary

  • Unable to throw away worthless items
  • Stockpiling items for no rational reason
  • Unable to access areas of the house due to clutter

Hoarding involves gathering and saving items of little or no real value. In some cases, even animals. The result is a cluttered home and a disrupted lifestyle. Hoarding used to be a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It is now known as a separate disorder. A person with hoarding disorder strongly believes each item is or will be needed. The person becomes greatly troubled at the thought of getting rid of any of them.

What causes hoarding?

It is not clear what makes someone start to hoard things. She may have been raised in a cluttered house or have hoarding somewhere in her family history. It may be an overreaction to having been brought up in poverty. Sometimes it can be a response to a painful event like losing a loved one.

People with hoarding disorder can have problems with organizing things or making decisions. They may also have OCD or some other mental health issue.

When to get help

Having a cluttered room or house is not a cause for alarm. Hoarding disorder is much more than just being messy or collecting things. People with the disorder find it very hard to part with any of their possessions. Just thinking or talking about it can cause them to panic. This is because they have attached a sense of value on each item. Over time the amount of clutter begins to take over the person’s entire home and lifestyle.

Signs of hoarding disorder:

  • Being unable to throw away items others consider worthless
  • Believing buying more and more things will make one happy
  • Believing useless or broken items will one day be needed
  • Stockpiling items for no rational reason
  • Not allowing others to touch items in your home
  • Being unable to access areas of the house due to clutter

If left untreated, hoarding disorder will get worse. The person with the disorder will start to become less and less social. After a while, he may not allow anyone in his home. In extreme hoarding cases, he may be unable to access his own kitchen or bathroom.

While these problems are clear to others, the person who is hoarding may appear unconcerned. He is often either unaware that he needs help or is unwilling to seek it. It may be left to family or friends to encourage him to get the help he needs.

Do not threaten or attempt to remove items from the home yourself. This does not address the real issue and the clutter will soon return. Do not call an agency to remove the clutter unless you believe it is causing a serious health risk.

Help for hoarding

Hoarding is sometimes treated with antidepressants, but more often with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It can help the person realize why she collects things and change her way of thinking. Slowly, she may be able to learn to let go of certain items. In time, it should be easier for her to throw more and more things away.

It is important that she chooses to discard the items herself. The therapist may need to make some onsite visits to her home to encourage this. He can also help her to better organize the things she chooses to keep. Once the hoarding is under control, a plan should be devised to prevent future issues. Through this plan, recovery is possible.

Resource

National Public Radio (NPR), “Hoarding Can Start Early, But Signs Are Hard To See In Teens” by Maanvi Singh www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/05/09/310722812/hoarding-can-start-early-but-signs-are-hard-to-see-for-teens

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: NHS Choices/Department of Health (UK), www.nhs.uk/Conditions/hoarding/Pages/Introduction.aspx; The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), www.DSM5.org
Reviewed by Paulo Correa, MD, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Unable to throw away worthless items
  • Stockpiling items for no rational reason
  • Unable to access areas of the house due to clutter

Hoarding involves gathering and saving items of little or no real value. In some cases, even animals. The result is a cluttered home and a disrupted lifestyle. Hoarding used to be a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It is now known as a separate disorder. A person with hoarding disorder strongly believes each item is or will be needed. The person becomes greatly troubled at the thought of getting rid of any of them.

What causes hoarding?

It is not clear what makes someone start to hoard things. She may have been raised in a cluttered house or have hoarding somewhere in her family history. It may be an overreaction to having been brought up in poverty. Sometimes it can be a response to a painful event like losing a loved one.

People with hoarding disorder can have problems with organizing things or making decisions. They may also have OCD or some other mental health issue.

When to get help

Having a cluttered room or house is not a cause for alarm. Hoarding disorder is much more than just being messy or collecting things. People with the disorder find it very hard to part with any of their possessions. Just thinking or talking about it can cause them to panic. This is because they have attached a sense of value on each item. Over time the amount of clutter begins to take over the person’s entire home and lifestyle.

Signs of hoarding disorder:

  • Being unable to throw away items others consider worthless
  • Believing buying more and more things will make one happy
  • Believing useless or broken items will one day be needed
  • Stockpiling items for no rational reason
  • Not allowing others to touch items in your home
  • Being unable to access areas of the house due to clutter

If left untreated, hoarding disorder will get worse. The person with the disorder will start to become less and less social. After a while, he may not allow anyone in his home. In extreme hoarding cases, he may be unable to access his own kitchen or bathroom.

While these problems are clear to others, the person who is hoarding may appear unconcerned. He is often either unaware that he needs help or is unwilling to seek it. It may be left to family or friends to encourage him to get the help he needs.

Do not threaten or attempt to remove items from the home yourself. This does not address the real issue and the clutter will soon return. Do not call an agency to remove the clutter unless you believe it is causing a serious health risk.

Help for hoarding

Hoarding is sometimes treated with antidepressants, but more often with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It can help the person realize why she collects things and change her way of thinking. Slowly, she may be able to learn to let go of certain items. In time, it should be easier for her to throw more and more things away.

It is important that she chooses to discard the items herself. The therapist may need to make some onsite visits to her home to encourage this. He can also help her to better organize the things she chooses to keep. Once the hoarding is under control, a plan should be devised to prevent future issues. Through this plan, recovery is possible.

Resource

National Public Radio (NPR), “Hoarding Can Start Early, But Signs Are Hard To See In Teens” by Maanvi Singh www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/05/09/310722812/hoarding-can-start-early-but-signs-are-hard-to-see-for-teens

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: NHS Choices/Department of Health (UK), www.nhs.uk/Conditions/hoarding/Pages/Introduction.aspx; The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), www.DSM5.org
Reviewed by Paulo Correa, MD, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Unable to throw away worthless items
  • Stockpiling items for no rational reason
  • Unable to access areas of the house due to clutter

Hoarding involves gathering and saving items of little or no real value. In some cases, even animals. The result is a cluttered home and a disrupted lifestyle. Hoarding used to be a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It is now known as a separate disorder. A person with hoarding disorder strongly believes each item is or will be needed. The person becomes greatly troubled at the thought of getting rid of any of them.

What causes hoarding?

It is not clear what makes someone start to hoard things. She may have been raised in a cluttered house or have hoarding somewhere in her family history. It may be an overreaction to having been brought up in poverty. Sometimes it can be a response to a painful event like losing a loved one.

People with hoarding disorder can have problems with organizing things or making decisions. They may also have OCD or some other mental health issue.

When to get help

Having a cluttered room or house is not a cause for alarm. Hoarding disorder is much more than just being messy or collecting things. People with the disorder find it very hard to part with any of their possessions. Just thinking or talking about it can cause them to panic. This is because they have attached a sense of value on each item. Over time the amount of clutter begins to take over the person’s entire home and lifestyle.

Signs of hoarding disorder:

  • Being unable to throw away items others consider worthless
  • Believing buying more and more things will make one happy
  • Believing useless or broken items will one day be needed
  • Stockpiling items for no rational reason
  • Not allowing others to touch items in your home
  • Being unable to access areas of the house due to clutter

If left untreated, hoarding disorder will get worse. The person with the disorder will start to become less and less social. After a while, he may not allow anyone in his home. In extreme hoarding cases, he may be unable to access his own kitchen or bathroom.

While these problems are clear to others, the person who is hoarding may appear unconcerned. He is often either unaware that he needs help or is unwilling to seek it. It may be left to family or friends to encourage him to get the help he needs.

Do not threaten or attempt to remove items from the home yourself. This does not address the real issue and the clutter will soon return. Do not call an agency to remove the clutter unless you believe it is causing a serious health risk.

Help for hoarding

Hoarding is sometimes treated with antidepressants, but more often with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It can help the person realize why she collects things and change her way of thinking. Slowly, she may be able to learn to let go of certain items. In time, it should be easier for her to throw more and more things away.

It is important that she chooses to discard the items herself. The therapist may need to make some onsite visits to her home to encourage this. He can also help her to better organize the things she chooses to keep. Once the hoarding is under control, a plan should be devised to prevent future issues. Through this plan, recovery is possible.

Resource

National Public Radio (NPR), “Hoarding Can Start Early, But Signs Are Hard To See In Teens” by Maanvi Singh www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/05/09/310722812/hoarding-can-start-early-but-signs-are-hard-to-see-for-teens

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: NHS Choices/Department of Health (UK), www.nhs.uk/Conditions/hoarding/Pages/Introduction.aspx; The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), www.DSM5.org
Reviewed by Paulo Correa, MD, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

Close

  • Useful Tools

    Select a tool below

© 2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.