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Help With Hoarding Disorder

Curated and updated for the community by APA

People with hoarding disorder excessively save items that others may view as worthless. They have persistent difficulty getting rid of or parting with possessions, leading to clutter that disrupts their ability to use their living or work spaces.

See definition, symptoms, & treatment

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  • Oct 23, 2015
This Halloween, Stigma Shouldn’t Be in Fashion

Stigma is a barrier to care for people with mental illness; more than one in four people cite stigma as a reason that they do not seek care. Being mindful about the way that we portray mental illness is important to help reduce stigma.

  • Oct 09, 2015
A Brief Mental Health Checkup

We often focus more on treating illnesses, both physical and mental, than on staying healthy. But the absence of mental illness does not necessarily mean good mental health.

  • Sep 23, 2015
Let’s Talk About the Way We Talk About Mental Illness

It’s no secret that stigma is one of the biggest barriers people face in their willingness to seek out mental health care. Something that is often taken for granted, however, is the impact that language can have when speaking about people with mental illness.

Upcoming Events
Buried in Treasures – Hoarding Disorders Support Group
  • Tucson, Arizona
  • Tue,  Jan  12
  • 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM

Pima Council on Aging

Ethical Dilemmas of Self Neglect of the Older Person: Advanced Treatment Interventions in Hoarding
  • White Plains, N.Y.
  • Wed,  Feb  17 - Wed,  Feb  17
  • 4:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Hoarding Disorder Resource and Training Group

Bio-Ethical Decision Making: Considerations for Advance Planning
  • White Plains, NY
  • Wed,  Mar  09 - Wed,  Mar  09
  • 4:30 PM - 7:00 PM

Hoarding Disorder Resource and Training Group

There have been a number of TV shows and other media coverage about people with hoarding behaviors. Has this changed the way people in general view hoarding disorder or peoples’ willingness to get help?

TV shows have raised awareness of the devastating impact hoarding behaviors can have on the individual and their loved ones. It is important for those affected to understand that TV shows, by their nature, may not capture all the time, effort and hard work that is a necessary part of any mental health treatment program. Hoarding, which became a new diagnostic entry in the DSM in 2013, affects about 2-6 percent of individuals. People with hoarding disorder have difficulty parting with possessions, clutter that interferes with normal functioning and marked distress and impairment. More

Are there early signs that a person may have hoarding disorder? Is it primarily a problem among older adults?

Initial start of hoarding symptoms is thought to happen in childhood or adolescence (typical onset is around age 13) and it is chronic and progressive. Hoarding is more common in older than younger age groups.

Below are some early signs that an adolescent may have hoarding behaviors. These behaviors are typically mild, and progress over years. They may become a severe problem in adults in their 50s. However, not every person with hoarding symptoms has a hoarding disorder.

  • Difficulty letting go of things (throwing away, selling, recycling, giving away)
  • Clutter that makes it difficult to move easily throughout the home
  • Piles of items that keep tipping over (newspapers, magazines, mail)
  • Sleeping with items on the bed
  • Trouble organizing and categorizing
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Spending time moving things from pile to pile without letting go of items
  • Problems with attention
  • Excessive shopping or collecting free things
  • Not realizing the seriousness of the problem

About the Experts:


Carolyn Rodriguez, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, Stanford Hoarding Disorders Research Program
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine


Randy O. Frost, Ph.D.
Professor, Smith College
Member, Scientific & Clinical Advisory Board, The International OCD Foundation (IOCDF)

Lainie’s Story


Lainie was a 47-year-old single woman referred to a community mental health team for treatment of depression and anxiety. She had never taken any psychiatric medication but had undergone CBT for depression 5 years earlier. more

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APA Resources

Understanding Mental Disorders: Your Guide to DSM-5

Understanding Mental Disorders is a consumer guide designed to promote education and understanding among anyone who has been touched by mental illness.

Editor's Choice
  • December 7, 2015

Buried treasures: understanding compulsive hoarding – Got Anxiety?
Sierra Sun

For several years, compulsive hoarding was considered a form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). However, in 2014 the American Psychiatric Association published the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual, 5th Ed., concluding that hoarding existed independently from OCD, due to several unique symptoms which, although similar to OCD, also included other characteristics not associated with those who evidence a diagnosis of OCD. More

  • December 7, 2015

Hoarders, their pets often need help from family and friends
Lodi News-Sentinel

Hoarding is a disorder that can exist on its own, but it is often accompanied by another mental illness such as obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or depression, the ADAA says. “These people really need help, and families should not ignore it,” Sherman said. More

  • October 16, 2015

Animal hoarding often leads to social isolation
Las Vegas Review-Journal

Pet addiction or animal hoarding is one of the cases where it's very easy for a mental health problem to become a physical health problem. More

Physician Review By:

Ranna Parekh, M.D., M.P.H.
November 2015