Hoarding

Explains hoarding, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.

Your stories

I'm a hoarder...

Kate talks about her journey with hoarding, what triggered it and how she got support.


Posted on 19/10/2017

Dealing with intrusive thoughts

Amber blogs about how her OCD can came in the form of intrusive thoughts and how she deals with it.

Amber
Posted on 06/08/2018

Life after losing my husband

Christine talks about caring for husband for 18 years and having to move and how she helped herself.

Christine
Posted on 26/01/2018

What treatments can help?

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 GP

The first step is usually to visit your GP. If they think 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 GP. 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 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – the organisation that produces guidelines on best practice in health care – hasn't issued treatment guidelines for hoarding disorder. However, the guidelines for treating OCD also mention hoarding because they used to be grouped together.

They say:

  • You should be offered evidence-based treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
  • Healthcare professionals should consider offering you treatment in your home, which some people find helpful.
  • If you can't attend appointments or have visitors, treatment over the phone should also be considered.

You can read the guidelines for OCD on the NICE website.

Talking therapies

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.

Medication

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.

Medication really helps some people but isn’t right for others. Before deciding to take any drug, it's important to make sure you have all the facts you need to make an informed choice.    

See our pages on things to consider before taking medication and your right to refuse medication for more information. Our pages on coming off medication give guidance on how to come off medication safely.

 


This information was published in September 2018. We will revise it in 2021.


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