Hoarding Disorder

Do you have trouble parting with possessions (such as discarding, recycling, selling or giving away)?

Because of clutter or number of possessions, is it difficult to use the rooms and the surfaces in your home?

Does your hoarding, saving, acquisition and clutter affect your daily functioning?

If you have answered yes to any of the above, you may have Hoarding Disorder.


What is Hoarding Disorder?

People with hoarding disorder have persistent difficulty getting rid of or parting with possessions due to a perceived need to save the items. Attempts to part with possessions create considerable distress and lead to decisions to save them. The resulting clutter disrupts the ability to use living spaces.

Many people with hoarding disorder also experience other mental disorders, including depression, anxiety disorders, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or alcohol use disorder.


Hoarding vs Collecting

Hoarding is not the same as collecting. Collectors typically acquire possessions in an organized, intentional, and targeted fashion. Once acquired, the items may be removed from normal usage, and could instead be subject to organizing, admiration, or be displayed to others.

On the other hand, acquisition of objects in people who hoard is largely impulsive, with little active planning, and triggered by the sight of an object that could be owned. Objects acquired by people with hoarding lack a consistent theme, whereas those of collectors are narrowly focused on a particular topic. In contrast to the organization and display of possessions seen in collecting, disorganized clutter is a hallmark of hoarding disorder.

The overall prevalence of hoarding disorder is approximately 2.6%, with higher rates for people over 60 years old and people with other psychiatric diagnoses, especially anxiety and depression. The prevalence and features of hoarding appear to be similar across countries and cultures. The bulk of evidence suggests that hoarding occurs with equal frequency in men and women. Hoarding behaviour begins relatively early in life and increases in severity with each decade.


Risk Factors

Several personality characteristics can increase one's susceptibility to developing a hoarding disorder:

  • Indecisiveness
  • Perfectionism
  • Procrastination
  • Disorganisation
  • Distractibility

These associated features can contribute greatly to their problems with functioning and the overall severity.


The Process of Becoming a Hoarder

The main symptom of hoarding disorder is the persistent difficulty in discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value. This difficulty is due to a perceived need to save the items and to the distress associated with discarding them.

The difficulty discarding possessions results in the accumulation of possessions that congest and clutter active living areas and substantially compromises their intended use. If living areas are uncluttered, it is only because of the interventions of third parties (e.g., family members, cleaners, or the authorities). Some individuals with hoarding disorder may recognize and acknowledge that they have a problem with accumulating possessions; others may not see it as a problem.


Effects of Hoarding Disorder

  • Problems with work activities
  • Family strain and conflicts
  • Isolation and loneliness
  • Unwillingness to have anyone else enter the home
  • Inability to perform daily tasks in the home

Potential consequences of serious hoarding can also include health and safety concerns, such as fire hazards, tripping hazards, and health code violations.