Understanding Hoarding Disorder and Its Treatment


  • Author Adrian Weems
  • Published August 25, 2021
  • Word count 723

Hoarding disorder is a psychological condition that drives a person to accumulate things, pets, etc, which might seem unnecessary to others. This urge to accumulate is as much emotional as it is mental. They keep on accumulating things until they fill up the house to the extent that there is no space left for living. This, in turn, affects their personal hygiene. Moreover, they have so many strings attached to the accumulated objects that they get emotionally drained and depressed by the thought of throwing them away. Slowly, the patient builds an extreme sense of avarice.

Types of Hoarding

Although, a person can hoard anything, a hoarding disorder can primarily be categorized into three types.

Compulsive Shopping: Individuals affected by this type of hoarding disorder are quite assertive towards collecting unnecessary items. Not satiated with their shopping sprees, they try to possess more and more items.

Animal Hoarding: Those suffering from this type of hoarding are obsessed by pets. They bring home more pets than they can care for.

Object Hoarding: People suffering from this type of hoarding are obsessed with items such as paper, cardboard, books, pens, clothes, or even garbage.

Consequences of Hoarding

A person suffering from hoarding disorder might not be aware of their hoarding habits. Hoarding can add multiple risk factors not just for the person suffering from the disorder but also for the family members living with them. For example:

• Excessive hoarding of paper items can act as a fire hazard

• Excessive hoarding of food items can lead to its rotting, resulting in unhygienic conditions for the entire family

• Having too many pets in the house can increase the risk for spread of viral and bacterial diseases

• Compromised personal hygiene

• Preparation of unhygienic food

• Social isolation

• Emotional conflict

• Unhygienic house and workplace

• Hazardous living conditions

Causes of Hoarding Disorder

Many studies have shown that the onset of hoarding disorder often starts during adolescence especially in case of any adverse childhood event (ACE). The symptoms get worse as age progresses. Many factors are associated with the onset of hoarding disorder but majorly it is anxiety, depression, or a traumatic event in life that triggers this condition.

Many studies have also suggested that daily life stressors such as bullying at workplace, social embarrassment, isolation, toxic relationships, depression, or feeling of being left out emotionally can also trigger hoarding disorder. This is because the person finds an emotional connect and peace in the objects they hoard.

Diagnostic Criteria of Hoarding Disorder

The following can be understood as the diagnostic criteria of hoarding disorder.

• A person plagued by hoarding disorder fails to discard unnecessary possessions. Even the thought of parting with their accumulated items emotionally distresses them.

• A person is emotionally attached to their possessions.

• The accumulation of objects had led to a cluttered living space, compromising on quality of life.

• The accumulation creates safety hazards and puts the person and family at risk.

• Emotional or cognitive impairment related to psychological factors.

Apart from the above, the symptoms can be also be related to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), major depressive episodes, or any other associated mental disorder.


Many treatment plans are available to deal with hoarding disorder. Unfortunately, not many people are able to seek treatment as their mental illness remains undiagnosed.

The treatment for hoarding disorder includes:

  • Psychotherapy to understand what is the root cause of the disorder in the patient. This also includes clinical interview.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) including making the affected person realize their abnormal behavior of hoarding things and assisting them in slowly changing their behavior.

  • Training to improve problem-solving skills.

  • Psychoeducation to better understand the severity of the condition.

  • Collaborative goals set by the therapist and the patient to treat the disorder.

  • Emotional training to de-clutter the messy space.

  • Behavioral trainings to get rid of the habit.

When to seek help

Treatment of hoarding disorder is possible but one needs to identify the symptoms and seek help at the earliest. One can seek help from support groups or from family and friends to combat the disorder.

Taking small steps like slowly discarding cluttered objects and practicing self-care and mental wellness can help deal with the disorder. People can ask for help from loved ones for cleaning and organizing the objects if they feel emotionally exhausted while doing it themselves.

My name is Adrian Weems cofounder of Medical Concierge Health Recovery a Private Inpatient Mental Health Facility in Aliso Viejo, CA. If you or a loved one is struggling from hoarding disorder or any other mental disorder, do not hesitate to ask for professional help. You can call our 24/7 helpline number 877 636 0042.

Article source: https://articlebiz.com
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