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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

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

Have a Story of Your Own to Share?

Editor's Choice

AUG 8, 2017

Seeking Help for Hoarding Disorder

To help our community draw something constructive from this tragedy, I want to share some information about hoarding disorder (HD), which is a struggle that I myself have experienced. The American Psychiatric Assoc. defines HD as a persistent difficulty discarding items regardless of value. The overwhelming distress caused by letting things go leads to areas of the home being filled and rendered unusable. Despite the prospect of potentially devastating consequences, such as the fire in Westfield, the fear of letting go is still too great to overcome.

AUG 6, 2017

Animal rescuer would like to see more local resources for hoarding cases

Athens NEWS

Animal hoarding is a specific form of animal abuse where a person collects and keeps far more animals than they are able to care for, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Like other types of hoarding, the ASPCA says, it’s often linked to a mental-health issue. Many animal hoarders think they are helping the animals, despite evidence showing the opposite. Animal hoarding also poses a sanitation risk to the owner and those in the area.

AUG 5, 2017

Hoarding's Toll: Port Orange case shines light on mental illness effects

Daytona Beach News-Journal

The animal hoarding case Port Orange officials stumbled upon that January day resulted in more than the horrifying discovery. It burdened a city’s resources, tested a landlord’s compassion and forced Daraio, the 50-year-old tenant, into an intensive mental-health evaluation and months-long court proceeding. Ultimately serving as proof help — and hope — are within reach.

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