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Is hoarding a mental illness?

Hoarding is a disorder that affects millions of people around the world. It is characterized by a persistent difficulty in discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value. Hoarding can cause significant distress and impairment in various areas of life, such as health, safety, social relationships, and work. Hoarding is considered a mental illness when it interferes with the person’s daily functioning and well-being. Hoarding can also be a symptom of other mental disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, anxiety, or dementia. Hoarding is not the same as collecting or being organized. People who collect or organize their belongings usually enjoy their possessions and can access them easily. People who hoard often feel overwhelmed by their clutter and have difficulty finding or using their items.

Mental health professionals have recognized a condition known as Compulsive Hoarding Disorder, in which individuals are more likely to hoard. Learn about the signs that someone is struggling with Compulsive Hoarding Disorder here. If someone that you know is struggling with hoarding, we have a list of mental health resources here.