Hoarding disorder is classified as an individual having constant difficulty discarding or parting with their possessions regardless of the actual value of the possession.
Hoarding Disorder is classified in the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual – 5 (DSM – 5) under Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders. Hoarding disorder is classified as an individual having constant difficulty discarding or parting with their possessions regardless of the actual value of the possession. This individual struggles due to their need to save or keep this item and due to their distress linked with discarding this item. Their difficulty in discarding their possessions leads to accumulation of possessions that tends to clutter and congest active living areas and significantly compromises the intended use of that area. Normally if living areas are uncluttered, it is only because third parties have intervened.
The prevalence rate of hoarding around the world is about 2-5% of adults in the population. It is difficult to determine the exact prevalence of Hoarding Disorder due to the common comorbidity it has to other mental disorders, particularly Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) as well as many individuals only seeking treatment for Hoarding Disorder because their loved ones suggest they seek help.
The signs of someone who may possibly have hoarding Disorder are a few or all of the following. Compulsive/excessive acquiring of goods (this could be anything no matter the actual value), an individual not discarding any of their possessions (despite their actual value), the individual showing great signs of distress when asked to stop acquiring items or to discard a certain time (despite the item’s actual value), the individual refusing to discard a certain item(s) (despite it’s actual value), giving responses such as “that item has significant personal meaning to me” or “I may need the item sometime in the future”, and/or an individual having active living areas (e.g. lounge, TV room, bedroom, kitchen, etc.) cluttered to such a point that that active area cannot be used for its intended purpose(s).
Hoarding disorder is strongly linked to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). There is often comorbidity between these two disorders. Often, individuals who hoard have a genetic or biological vulnerability to hoarding, they may also have learnt from a young age (experiences) to keep possessions, they often misattribute the meaning or value that they assign to certain possessions, and their acquiring and saving behaviours are often then reinforced by positive and negative emotions associated with these behaviours. For example, feeling distressed when they need to discard with an item or feeling or feelings of relief and/or joy when they get to keep an item or acquire a new item.
Hoarding Disorder can be dealt with and an individual can get it under control however it requires motivation to get better from the individual seeking treatment. The treatment for Hoarding Disorder will often be a combination of medication, which is usually Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and psychotherapy in the form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).