Published On By Rachel Nall

HoardingHoarding disorder is characterized by the extreme difficulty in discarding possessions and accumulating items. These items are often considered essential by the person collecting them.

This disorder might create dangerous levels of clutter, causing stress, shame, and creating unsafe living conditions.

Often starting in adolescence, hoarding disorder might worsen with age, being more prevalent among older people and those suffering from anxiety and depression.

Understanding that Hoarding is more than just a character flaw is essential. The impact of Hoarding might affect relationships and daily tasks.

Early intervention can significantly mitigate disruptions in life and assist family members dealing with the challenges of hoarding disorder.

Understanding Hoarding

Hoarding disorder is an acknowledged mental health condition. It manifests as a compelling urge to accumulate a large number of items, causing distress when attempting to discard them.

People with hoarding disorder often need to save various items, regardless of their value. The typical hoarded items span a broad spectrum, including newspapers, magazines, household goods, clothing, and even animals in some cases.

This excessive acquisition and the subsequent difficulty in parting with possessions could create shameful living conditions that affect daily tasks, social interactions, familial relationships, and work environments.

The impact of hoarding disorder extends beyond mere physical clutter, permeating various aspects of a person’s life. It could create feelings of distress and overwhelm, influencing one’s mental well-being and overall quality of life.

Hoarding could also create hazardous living environments, posing risks to health and safety. In some cases, the problem of Hoarding might lead to legal consequences.

Causes Of Hoarding

Research suggests that hoarding disorder may stem from various information-processing deficits that are linked to specific mental health conditions and risk factors.

People with hoarding disorder often struggle with visuospatial learning and memory, planning, problem-solving, sustained attention, working memory, and organization.

These deficits may contribute to the challenges associated with removing unwanted items and organizing living spaces effectively.

Hoarding disorder is recognized as a distinct condition within the mental health spectrum. It could co-occur with other conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression.

Certain causes associated with hoarding disorder may include:

  • A family history of hoarding disorder, brain injury, and traumatic life events.
  • Impulsive buying habits.
  • A tendency to acquire free items compulsively.
  • Co-occurring substance use disorders or alcohol use disorders.
  • Conditions like Prader-Willi syndrome have been linked to an increased likelihood of developing hoarding behaviors.

Symptoms Of Hoarding

Hoarding disorder could manifest through various symptoms, including:

  • Inability to get rid of possessions: People with hoarding disorder struggle to discard items, regardless of their value or usefulness, accumulating unnecessary belongings.
  • Extreme tension when throwing out items: The thought of parting with possessions causes significant distress and anxiety in people with hoarding disorder, making decluttering a challenging task.
  • Uncertainty about where to put things: Hoarders often face difficulties organizing their belongings, contributing to the chaotic and cluttered living spaces commonly associated with this disorder.

Difference Between Hoarding And Collecting

Collecting usually involves purposefully saving specific types of items, like comic books or stamps. It requires a conscious selection process and organization that does not disrupt daily life.

On the other hand, Hoarding does not entail following an organized collection pattern. People with hoarding disorder may stock up on items with little or no economic value, like pieces of paper or even broken toys.

Collecting Hoarding
Carefully chosen items Items with little to no value
Organized in a specific way Chaotic and disorganized accumulation
Does not disrupt daily life Negatively impacts daily functioning

Is Hoarding An Anxiety Disorder?

Hoarding disorder, while falling under the category of the obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) spectrum, is recognized as a distinct condition rather than solely an anxiety disorder.

Here are some key points to consider:

  • Anxiety Element: Anxiety plays a role in Hoarding, but the disorder involves more than just anxiety. The compulsive need to obtain and save items, the difficulty discarding possessions, and the resulting clutter are central features of hoarding disorder.
  • Complexity of Symptoms: Hoarding disorder may present a unique set of symptoms that involve cognitive challenges, emotional attachments to objects, and difficulties with decision-making. These aspects contribute to the distinct nature of Hoarding as an anxiety disorder.
  • Treatment Approaches: Anxiety disorders often respond well to specific treatments like exposure therapy, but hoarding disorders may require a more tailored approach addressing particular cognitive and behavioral aspects.

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Diagnosis Of Hoarding

People with hoarding disorder often present challenges related to organizing living spaces effectively, which may require a thorough assessment to diagnose the condition.

Healthcare providers rely on specific criteria in diagnosing hoarding disorder and differentiate it from general clutter or collecting habits.

The diagnosis of Hoarding involves recognizing the following symptoms:

  • Strong feelings of attachment to items and distress associated with discarding them.
  • Living spaces are filled with possessions to the extent that they become unusable and potentially dangerous.

After identifying the symptoms, the healthcare provider may ask the hoarder a few questions to examine the severity of the Hoarding:

Questions Asked After Assessing The Hoarding Disorder Symptoms
“Are you having trouble throwing away possessions, or even discarding, recycling, selling, or giving away?”
“How difficult is it to use the rooms and surfaces in your home because of the clutter or number of possessions?”

Treatment Of Hoarding

Healthcare providers may utilize cognitive behavioral therapy to treat hoarding disorders.

Through CBT, people work with mental health professionals to explore the reasons behind their hoarding behaviors and learn strategies to reduce anxiety associated with discarding items.

This therapy emphasizes developing organizational skills and improving decision-making abilities, essential for managing possessions.

Healthcare providers may prescribe antidepressant medications, such as SSRIs, to help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression that may coexist with hoarding disorder.

Medications like venlafaxine could assist in regulating mood and reducing the emotional attachment to possessions, making it easier for people to engage in decluttering activities.

Support groups, professional organizers, and legal interventions may complement CBT and medication to treat hoarding disorder.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How Do Cultural Beliefs and Societal Norms Influence Hoarding Behaviors?
    Cultural beliefs and societal norms may shape hoarding behaviors by influencing attitudes towards possessions, attachment to objects, and perceptions of clutter. Understanding these influences is vital in addressing the complexities of hoarding disorder.
  2. Can Hoarding Tendencies Be Passed Down Through Generations in Families?
    Hoarding tendencies could be passed down through generations in families. Genetic factors and learned behaviors from growing up in a hoarding environment could contribute to a person’s susceptibility to hoarding behaviors over time.
  3. What Role Do Memory and Nostalgia Play in Hoarding Disorder?
    Memory and nostalgia could intensify hoarding disorder by attaching sentimental value to possessions, making discarding difficult. Emotional ties to items rooted in past experiences may reinforce hoarding behaviors, complicating decluttering efforts and daily functioning.
  4. How Does Trauma Impact the Severity of Hoarding Behaviors?
    Trauma could worsen hoarding behaviors, acting as a protective mechanism against distress. Significant life events, abuse, or loss can trigger hoarding tendencies. Addressing trauma in therapy is vital for managing hoarding severity and promoting recovery.
  5. Are There Specific Personality Traits Commonly Found in People With Hoarding Disorder?
    People with hoarding disorder often exhibit traits such as indecisiveness, perfectionism, and emotional attachment to possessions.


Emotional triggers, childhood influences, trauma, familial predispositions, and decision-making challenges might worsen the hoarding condition.

Remember that Hoarding is a serious issue and not a result of laziness or willpower. It could be a significant problem if someone stores material that covers so much space that it affects their daily chores.

If you are someone dealing with a hoarding disorder, you may consult a mental health expert or a doctor to learn effective measures to help manage your hoarding behavior.

Understanding that Hoarding is a mental health condition, not a character flaw, is essential for support. A collective effort from the person suffering from this disorder and their family may help promote healing and recovery.

  • The information in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.
  • It is not recommended to disregard/delay seeking professional medical advice or treatment because of what you read or accessed through this article.
  • The results may vary from individual to individual.
  • It is recommended to consult your doctor for any underlying medical conditions or if you are on any prescribed medicines before trying any tips or strategies.

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