A hoarding disorder is where someone has an excessive number of items and stores them in a chaotic manner.
It's considered to be a significant problem if:
- The amount of clutter interferes with everyday living – for example, the person is unable to use their kitchen or bathroom and cannot access rooms
- The clutter is causing significant distress or negatively affecting the person's quality of life or their family's – for example, they become upset if someone tries to clear the clutter and their relationships with others suffers
A hoarding disorder can be a problem because it can take over the person's life, making it very difficult for them to get around their house. It can cause their work performance, personal hygiene and relationships to suffer.
The person hoarding is usually reluctant or unable to have visitors, or allow tradesmen in to carry out essential repairs, which can cause isolation and loneliness.
The clutter can pose a health risk to the person and anyone who lives in or visits their house. For example, it can:
- Make cleaning very difficult, leading to unhygienic conditions and encouraging rodent or insect infestations
- Be a fire risk and block exits in the event of a fire
- Cause trips and falls
- Fall over on people, if kept in large piles
The hoarding could also be a sign of an underlying condition, such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), other types of anxiety, depression and potentially more serious conditions, such as dementia.
If you think a family member or someone you know has a hoarding disorder, try to persuade them to come with you to see a GP.
For information about Hoarding disorder and what you can do to help someone please visit the NHS website.