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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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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 More

About the Experts:

rodriquez-expert.jpg

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

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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.

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Editor's Choice

MAY 18, 2018

Revealed in Pictures: OCD clutter scale will tell you if you have a hoarding problem

Derbyshire Times

A hoarding support group is raising awareness of the compulsive disorder as part of National Hoarding Awareness Week (14-18 May). A person is considered to have a problem with hoarding when their home becomes excessively cluttered, when they have problems discarding things, and when it interferes with everyday living – for example preventing safe cooking, going to bed or accessing rooms.

MAY 16, 2018

Therapist Explains Behavior, Hoarding

Spartansburg hearlad Journal

At a recent meeting of Mental Health America of Spartanburg County a therapist discussed the difference between normal behavior and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), as well as hoarding. Once someone is diagnosed, there is hope, he said.

APR 26, 2018

Local Organizations Work Together to Address Hoarding

The Boston Globe

The Eau Claire County Hoarding Task Force works to address the needs of hoarders and their families. Organizers say their main focus right now is to educate the community on hoarding and to provide volunteer assistance to anyone in need of resources.

Resources

Additional Resources and Organizations

Physician Reviewed

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