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Hoarding OCD

Many people have trouble throwing things away. Actually, to a degree that’s me! But, most of us aren’t considered true hoarders. Hoarders are people who collect huge (and I mean huge) quantities of useless junk and refuse to part with it even when it gets in the way of living in the home. Hoarders often have stacks of stuff on appliances and stairways and desks and floors. It gets so bad that their homes turn into fire hazards, become infested with insects, and pose increased risk of falls. In fact, the appliances in the homes of most hoarders no longer function properly because calling a repair person could result in the hoarder being turned into the Public Health Department.

Hoarding currently is considered a type of OCD, but experts debate whether Hoarding quite fits under the OCD umbrella. So, you just might see Hoarding recategorized in the next version of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). Some of the reasons that Hoarding OCD may not be true OCD include:

  • Unlike most people with OCD, the majority of hoarders do not want help. This fact also happens to make them much more difficult to treat.
  • Medication doesn’t work with Hoarding OCD nearly as well as it does for other types of OCD.
  • People with Hoarding OCD seem to have certain cognitive deficits (like the ability to categorize and make decisions) that are not shared by people with other types of OCD.
  • Hoarding OCD treatment typically takes much longer than other types of OCD treatment.
  • Hoarding OCD is more prone to relapse than other types of OCD.

Click through on the video screen below to see a good example of what Hoarding OCD can look like. If you watch this video, you can also see why many hoarders never marry. Those that do often end up divorced because of the effects hoarding has on marriages. If you know someone who is a hoarder and actually wants to change, there’s a great book on OCD hoarding written by Gail Steketee, Ph.D. and Randy Frost, Ph.D. We highly recommend it. This book can also be used in conjunction with treatment that’s ordered by the courts (all too often what happens for hoarders).


Hoarding OCD

Charles H. Elliott, Ph.D.

Charles H. Elliott, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and a Founding Fellow in the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. He is also a member of the faculty at Fielding Graduate University. He specializes in the treatment of adolescents and adults with obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, anger, depression, and personality disorders. Dr. Elliott is coauthor of: Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies (2nd Ed), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder For Dummies, Seasonal Affective Disorder For Dummies, Anxiety and Depression Workbook For Dummies, Depression For Dummies, Why Can't I Get What I Want?, Why Can’t I Be the Parent I Want to Be?, and Hollow Kids: Recapturing the Soul of a Generation Lost to the Self-Esteem Myth. His website is:

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APA Reference
Elliott, C. (2009). Hoarding OCD. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2020, from


Last updated: 20 Mar 2009
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