If hoarding is causing you distress, you might want to consider seeking treatment. A growing number of professionals are aware of hoarding, including the need to help you take things at your own pace and not pressure you to make changes faster than you want to. This page covers:
Seeing your doctor
The first step is usually to visit your doctor, also known as your GP. If your GP thinks you are hoarding they might refer you to a psychiatrist (or another mental health professional) for an assessment.
Our information on seeking help for a mental health problem can help you talk to your doctor. Some people have also created tools to help you start a conversation about hoarding. These include:
Clutter Image Rating
Using the Clutter Image Rating tool involves looking at pictures and choosing which ones most closely match your situation.
You can download a copy from websites including Hoarding Disorders UK or Help For Hoarders. You may also be able to find a free app by searching your app store for ‘Clutter Image Rating’.
Hoarding ice breaker
Filling in a hoarding ice breaker form could help with talking to your GP.
You can download a copy from websites including Hoarding Disorders UK or Rainbow Red. It can help you explain how hoarding is affecting you and also includes the Clutter Image Rating.
The main talking therapy used to treat hoarding is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and behaviour.
See our pages on talking therapies and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for more information.
Evidence suggests that individual and group CBT can both be helpful, and that they are more likely to help if you follow a treatment programme designed for hoarding (rather than, for example, OCD). Hoarding-specific treatments are improving, as researchers are learning more about what can help.
Together with your therapist, you might:
- examine your beliefs about needing to keep things
- try to understand why it's hard for you to get rid of things
- learn skills to help you cope with difficult feelings.
Other types of talking therapy may also be helpful, but more research is needed to find out which ones.
Treatment in your home
Research suggests it can help if your therapist visits you at home, so they can understand more about your situation and help you work out how to make changes. Some people also seem to find it helpful to have treatment in a familiar environment.
Hoarding and treatment using virtual reality
Researchers are investigating whether virtual reality can be combined with cognitive therapy to help you practise doing things you find difficult, such as throwing things away. It's possible that this could be used to devise treatments for hoarding in the future.
To be honest my recovery probably would not have started without [medication]. The anxiety and depression needed to be sorted out a bit before the house could even start to be sorted.
There aren't any specific medications for hoarding disorder, but some people find medication helps with other problems they are experiencing alongside hoarding. For example, you might be offered antidepressants.
See our pages on antidepressants for more information.
This information was published in September 2018. We will revise it in 2021.