Hoarding Disorder (HD) is a mental health condition with roots in trauma and loss. HD effects an estimated 2-6% of people across the world. Based on Minnesota’s population of 5.7 million (2021), this means roughly 285,000 Minnesotans could be living with the disorder.
- Persistent, excessive attachment to possessions regardless of their actual value.
- Clinically significant distress and anxiety associated with parting with items.
- Living spaces that cannot be used for their intended purpose.
- The hoarding causes disruption of social, occupational (Activities of Daily Living) and other important areas of functioning such as maintaining safety for one’s self and others.
- The behavior cannot be better explained by another condition such as dementia, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Prader Willi.
For some, Hoarding Disorder also includes:
Excessive acquisition and/or poor or reduced insight
Struggling with clutter in the home can look similar to Hoarding Disorder, but without excessive attachment. Clutter is caused by complications with another illness such as depression, dementia, medical issues, anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), or other conditions.
Diogenes Syndrome; Squalor syndrome
Items lack a purpose for the person and the person is not emotionally attached to the items. The items are most often trash and the living spaces have sanitation issues.
A Mixture of HD and Diogenes is possible.
Co-morbidity with another other mental illness is likely.
The severity of hoarding can range from Mild to Severe. There are several resources and scales that can be used to measure the severity.
HOARDING IS OFTEN HIDDEN from family, friends and neighbors, sometimes out of embarrassment or fear of being turned in to authorities. The items in the home may feel comforting to the owner. The clutter may even provide a sense of security. For many, the hoarded items can spread to other areas including yards, porches, automobiles, storage units and more.
Common experiences of people who hoard include:
- Fear of leaving home
- Avoidance of spending time at home
- Difficulty making decisions
- Unprocessed trauma or loss
- Emotional attachment to belongings
- History of Hoarding Disorder or related behavior in the family
There is much to learn about hoarding.
No website can summarize the complexities of what a person experiences with Hoarding Disorder and Hoarding Behavior. We understand that some relationships become extremely complicated. If you are trying to help a person struggling with this behavior, please approach them with compassion and take care of your own mental health as you do.