The Causes & Symptoms of Hoarding

Hoarding is associated with four disorders:

1. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Experts believe that the most common cause of hoarding is OCD. Approximately 3% of the general population has OCD. However, most of these individuals are not hoarders. OCD is a complex and broad spectrum disorder. Individuals may exhibit mild, moderate of significant symptoms.

There are four subtypes of OCD:

  • Pure obsessions
  • Contamination and checking
  • Symmetry/ordering/arranging
  • Hoarding/saving/collecting

Hoarders engage in saving/collecting behavior in order to combat obsessive doubts and anxiety-provoking thoughts. Most hoarders experience intense anxiety or distress when attempting to discard, or even think of discarding, what others may view as useless objects.

Certain medications may help individuals with OCD manage symptoms; however, medication has not proven effective for reducing symptoms associated with hoarding.

2. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Adult ADHD – the inability to focus or control impulses – often contributes to hoarding. Like OCD, many people who hoard have ADHD, but most individuals with ADHD are not hoarders.

3. Psychosis

Individuals with paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are often hoarders. However, most hoarders do not have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

4. Dementia

Approximately 20% of people with dementia exhibit some degree of hoarding behavior. Hoarding is common in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, as individuals attempt to keep things in sight for fear of forgetting where they are. As the disease progresses, hoarding behavior may increase as individuals seek to gather together familiar objects. Although 20% of people with dementia hoard, most hoarders do not have dementia.

Hoarders come from all walks of life. Many are highly intelligent and successful.

This material excerpted from Hoarding 101


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about 6 years, said...

Hello 'Pixfaira', Thank you for sharing your story with us. To help ensure that you stay safe, please discuss these concerns with your loved one's doctor as soon as possible. Explain the potential danger, and ask the doctor to evaluate your loved one's treatment plan (including drug regimen). If it's an urgent situation, you may need the doctor's or law enforcement's help with arranging an involuntary hospitalization. The purpose of calling the police isn't to "arrest" or punish your loved one, but instead to make sure he or she gets appropriate help as soon as possible. You may also consider contacting your local Area Agency on Aging to find organizations that may be of help nearby: -Kind Regards, Sho from the Caring Community Team

about 6 years, said...

My mom husban is a hoarder & me & my mom can stand this in our house. Our house an't that big. & there an't that much room hear in our house for his hoarding stuff hear in the house. Me & my mom are now in the proses of down sizing the stuff my mom has cleted over the years we have lived hear. But when it come to her husban & asking him to help in down sizing his stuff he hoards he won't help out in getting rid of it ( his stuff ). the stuff my mom husban hoards are paper, news papers, paint the kind u paint houses or room with,art paint ,books, pictures, things that he one tryed to make a bizzness out of called Rolly chocolates it was a chocolate bizzness he tryed to run out of out house that faled to work for him as a job he tryed to make work that faled in the end. & other things to he hoards on to like food. he a dibtic who spoe to watch how much he eat & what he eats. but that doesn't matter to him if there junk food around or sweets or food that has sugar in it he eat it & a lot of it. At late at night is when he hoards on food half the time. i mean like 12:00 am & on. my mom husban has a hoarding problem with the TV to. We he watch to much TV day & night he does help in cleaning the house up for house hold choors there 3 adults & it seem to only 2 adults doing the house hold choors hear ever day & night as well cleaning up the house hear. My mom husban would watch every day & nigth up antill 3:00am TV on just 2 programs religen on god & westen all the time. He doesn't share the TV with my mom at all & there only 2 TV's in the house hooked up to cable reson Y is it coast to much to have another TV hook up to the cable so we only have 2 TV's hook up to cable now. & as iseid about him hoarding the TV well that in the front room most of the time. witch isn't good to do. When my mom ask him to help out in cleaning his stuff up he has hoarded in our house he seid to my mom u do it to my lately we have been cleaning some of his hoarding stuff up & have got rid of it. but there other thing that need to be get rid of in our house. But he won't give it up. & it no longer fix able. It look horrable in out house he doesn't just care he want to keep it if so it an't fix able no more. we have 2 cats in out house young as 3 year old & a older cat age12 years old to. i rilly don't know what to do. i feel bad for my cats to living in life style i'm trying to do what I can for them hear but it not anoff for them. & as far as I go on living hear well it driving me nuts living hear like this I can't stand it no more he driving me crazzy & he doesn't care about it or how we feel about this. To him it look like we me & my mom donot live hear in his world or house that we all live in. Including the cats to. & as for my mom go well she want him to clean up his hoarding mess to she can't take this abuse from him no more. My mom at end of her roap & she rilly don't know how to deal with this eather. we can't have company over because of the way it look hear in the house. Me & mom would like to have people come over but because of him we can't have no one over. My mom husban seid to my mom one day I had live like this for 40 to 60 some odd years & I an't ever gonna chane now for no one. that there is sad but a bid proble to. He has all so sied to my mom thatit never bother him when it come to people comming over to live like this. that there show to any one he rilly doesn't care about things or people who live with or in the public eye eather. My mom husban all seid one night ti her well if no one care about me than Y should I care about any one eather. If any one who as any good addvise or good answer on how to get dome help hear for me & my mom on his hoarding probles we are dealing with now sence U know what we are going throw. Please let use know we need HELP BADLY & FAST to. ( PLEASE HELP USE A/S/A/P !!! Pixfaira

about 7 years, said...

The article re hoarding is a very good tool in working with seniors, as well as in self- assessement. It explains in laymen terms co-existing conditions associated with hoarding. Thank you..

about 7 years, said...

i have a suggestion for the paper hoarder. maybe you can suggest they scan it and put it in a computer file with a backup hard-drive. it may take some time and help but if feeling like they wont lose it and can organize it might help.

over 7 years, said...

How about emotional damage? My mother was a hoarder. She had a perfectly clean house (didn't hoard trash, no rats, bugs, etc) but had piles of possessions. She kept old magazines. I think this was because my grandmother used to punish her by giving away her possessions (she once came home to find her bedroom emptied, including her clothes), one child died in an accident, and another was taken by CPS (again, thanks to evil Grandma). She had a terrible fear of loss. My stepfather understood and just let her do it because she got horribly upset if anything was given away (she actually remembered where every single miniscule item was).

over 7 years, said...

This article was extremely helpful to me because it provided informatiion. about the causes & symptoms of hoarding which I was not aware. I did not understand my behavior so my adult years have been filled with shame, guilt and isolation. Thanks for shedding light on my dark secret.

over 7 years, said...

were fighting a brother who is a hoarder of paper, he is very hard to talk to , domineering to say the least. how can we help.. the paper buildup has gone on for 40 years