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Quick Facts

Hoarding Disorder

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Jun 2020| Content last modified Jun 2020
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What is hoarding disorder?

Hoarding disorder is a mental disorder that involves an inability to get rid of belongings, even useless or worthless ones. People with hoarding disorder can’t bear to part with any items they own. Things pile up and clutter their living space until it's full of things and becomes unusable.  

  • People with hoarding disorder gather and store things in a disorganized way, not as organized collections

  • You may get upset if forced to part with items or even think about parting with items

  • Hoarding often begins in adolescence but may get worse with age

  • Mental health professionals treat hoarding disorder with therapy or medicines

What are the symptoms of hoarding disorder?

A person with hoarding disorder wants to save things, even if the things don't have any value and there isn't enough space for them.

Symptoms of hoarding disorder include:

  • Living spaces that are so crowded and cluttered that they can't be used, except for storing items

  • Living spaces where extreme clutter has created a fire hazard or caused a pest infestation

  • Refusal to throw things away, out of a false belief that the items are unique, special, or will be needed in the future

  • Getting upset at the thought of throwing things away

Animal hoarding is a type of hoarding in which you collect dozens or even hundreds of pets that you can't feed or care for properly.

How can doctors tell if I have hoarding disorder?

Many people have clutter in their living spaces for short periods of time, for example, when moving to a new house. Doctors diagnose you with hoarding disorder only when you:

  • Often or always have trouble getting rid of things (even useless or worthless things)

  • Get very upset at the thought of getting rid of things

  • Can't use your living space because it's so full of clutter

  • Are having problems in daily life caused by your hoarding

How do doctors treat hoarding disorder?

Doctors treat hoarding disorder with a combination of:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy—this helps people to stop repeating actions and to change their habits

  • Antidepressant medicines

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