Your Guide to Hoarding OCD and Its Treatment

A person with hoarding OCD may gather a range of items. It could interfere with someone's ability to keep their home tidy or their daily routine.

When you find it difficult to give up or part with tangible or digital belongings, you may be hoarding. Hoarding causes a person's living space to become so disorganised and messy that it becomes impossible to live there, which can have a negative impact on your quality of life.

One subtype, or theme, of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), is hoarding OCD, which is characterised by obsessions and compulsions around hoarding. While hoarding disorder and hoarding OCD share certain similarities, they are two distinct disorders with unique symptoms, approaches to therapy, and other characteristics.

We'll go over the connection between OCD and hoarding as well as the signs, causes, and remedies of hoarding OCD in the sections that follow.

How are hoarding and OCD related?

According to a 2023 research paper, hoarding and obsessive-compulsive disorder have a long history together, to the point where physicians once thought of hoarding as a kind of OCD. Despite not being a component of an official OCD diagnosis, these subtypes are a widely accepted method used by medical practitioners to group symptoms.

Nonetheless, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) underwent an update, which was released in 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Hoarding disorder was categorised as a separate diagnosis under "obsessive-compulsive and related disorders" in accordance with the updated DSM-5 criteria.

The connection between OCD and hoarding is one of the reasons why doctors have historically thought of hoarding as closely related to OCD.

Researchers discovered that about 24% of participants in a 2007 study—all of whom had OCD—exhibited hoarding behaviours. About 18% of people with hoarding disorder who took part in another 2011 study also fit the criteria for OCD.

Hoarding OCD vs. hoarding disorder

There are two different kinds of hoarding, according to a study from 2008: compulsive hoarding as a condition and compulsive hoarding as an OCD symptom.

People who suffer from hoarding disorder usually save things that they consider to be sentimental, practical, or valuable. It might be satisfying to hoard these things, and it can be very upsetting to get go of them.

Hoarding is a compulsion that relieves the tension and discomfort that obsessions can bring about in people with hoarding OCD. A person with a hoarding disorder may also have other compulsions, and the goods they hoard are not always sentimental or useful.

Symptoms of hoarding OCD

Obsessions and compulsions are the main symptoms of hoarding OCD, a subtype of OCD.

Any unpleasant and intrusive ideas, images, or even feelings that make someone feel uneasy, afraid, or anxious are referred to as obsessions in OCD. OCD obsessions with hoarding centre on desires and ideas about collecting or discarding objects.

When someone has hoarding obsessions, they may think the following:
  • Throwing away childhood treasures will have negative consequences.
  • If they part with personal belongings, they will lose a piece of who they are.
  • Gift-givers may face risk if their presents are thrown out.
  • Everything in their house is contaminated and has the potential to contaminate more things.
  • They must acquire or buy a specific "lucky" quantity of goods.
Compulsions are a reaction by those with hoarding OCD to the anxiety these obsessions create. The most prevalent compulsive behaviour in this kind of OCD is hoarding, however, compulsions can take many various forms among OCD sufferers.

The following are examples of compulsive behaviours someone with hoarding OCD may exhibit:
  • storing broken, useless, or otherwise unusable goods
  • purchasing just a specific number or quantity of goods
  • unwilling to part with or discard any sentimental objects or personal belongings
  • keeping "contaminated" goods rather than discarding them
  • acquiring products they think might be contaminated
  • continuously making sure they haven't misplaced or discarded any goods
  • following specific customs before purchasing or discarding goods
The fact that the objects being hoarded don't necessarily have value is one distinction between hoarding disorder and hoarding OCD. A person with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) might, for instance, retain childhood memories because throwing them away would cause them anxiety, not necessarily because they are worthless.

How do you treat hoarding OCD?

Treatment for OCD usually consists of a mix of counselling, medication, and other methods, depending on whether you have hoarding OCD or another subtype:
  • Therapy: Exposure and response prevention (ERP), a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) strategy, is one of the most widely used therapeutic techniques for OCD. Studies have indicated that ERP may be a more successful treatment for OCD than pharmacological treatment alone.
  • Medication: Medication may also be helpful for OCD sufferers in managing their symptoms. For OCD, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most often prescribed class of drugs; however, tricyclic antidepressants may also be helpful for some patients.
  • Other options: OCD symptoms may also be lessened by other treatments including deep brain stimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). For those who have not responded to previous forms of treatment, these methods can be extremely beneficial.
Many of these treatment methods overlap with one another to address both OCD and hoarding disorders. However, determining which therapy modalities are most effective for you may take some time.

Is there a test for hoarding OCD?

Doctors can detect disorders like OCD and hoarding disorder using a range of mental health screening tools, even though there isn't a single test for hoarding OCD.

The DSM, a guidebook used by nearly all mental health practitioners in the US to identify mental health disorders, is one such screening tool. Your doctor can identify whether hoarding OCD or another disorder is causing your experiences and symptoms by looking at your historical and present mental health records and symptoms.


One of the various subtypes of OCD that sufferers can encounter is hoarding OCD, which is defined by hoarding-related obsessions and compulsions. Doctors treat hoarding OCD using counselling, medication, or a mix of therapies, just like they do other forms of OCD.

To share your worries if you've been engaging in hoarding behaviours, get in touch with a physician or mental health specialist. You may learn how to control compulsive hoarding and enhance your quality of life with the correct diagnosis and treatment.


Can OCD be cured permanently?

May not result in a cure

Does OCD get worse with age?

Symptoms usually worsen with age

At what age does OCD peak?

Between the ages of 8 and 12

Is OCD a bad thing?

OCD can have a profound effect on a person's life

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