What is hoarding disorder?

Hoarding disorder is a mental health disorder in which people save a large number of items whether they have worth or not. Typical hoarded items include newspapers, magazines, paper products, household goods, and clothing. Sometimes people with hoarding disorder collect a large number of animals.

Hoarding disorder can lead to dangerous clutter. The condition can interfere with quality of life in many ways. It can cause people stress and shame in their social, family, and work lives. It can also create unhealthy and unsafe living conditions.

How common is hoarding disorder?

Hoarding disorder affects an estimated 2% to 6% of the U.S. population.

What are the symptoms of hoarding disorder?

People with hoarding disorder feel a strong need to save their possessions. Other symptoms include:

  • Inability to get rid of possessions
  • Extreme stress about throwing out items
  • Anxiety about needing items in the future
  • Uncertainty about where to put things
  • Distrust of others touching possessions
  • Living in unusable spaces due to clutter
  • Withdrawing from friends and family

What causes hoarding disorder?

The cause of hoarding disorder is unknown. Doctors have identified several risk factors associated with the condition. They include:

  • Having a relative with the disorder
  • Brain injury that triggers the need to save things
  • Traumatic life event
  • Mental disorders such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Uncontrollable buying habits
  • Inability to pass up free items such as coupons and flyers

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