People living with hoarding disorder compulsively collect objects, animals or trash to the extent that it impacts their relationships, health and overall well-being. Currently, researchers believe compulsive hoarding affects 1 in every 50 people, but it may impact as many as 1 in every 20. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Massachusetts, up to 5 percent of the world’s population displays symptoms of clinically-diagnosable hoarding.
If left untreated, hoarding disorder can have far-reaching, adverse effects on nearly every aspect of a person’s life. If you or someone you know lives with this condition, learning more hoarding facts and statistics can help you understand hoarding disorder and seek professional help if necessary.
Who Struggles with Hoarding Behavior?
While hoarder personality traits and demographics vary widely, people who live with hoarding disorder often share a set of characteristics.
On average, individuals who exhibit hoarding behavior:
- Live alone
- Are three times more likely to be obese than the average person
- Are perfectionistic
- Have at least one family member who is also a hoarder
When Does Compulsive Hoarding Start?
It’s easy to wonder how hoarding starts, particularly because the habit involves collecting ordinary objects that most people consider trash. What makes one person keep unnecessary items, accumulating them to such excess that it dramatically affects their mental health? While the exact cause of hoarding is unknown, clinicians believe it is connected to genetics and trauma.
Compulsive hoarding can begin as early as a person’s teenage years, but usually doesn’t become severe until adulthood. Adults between the ages of 55 and 94 are three times more likely to have a diagnosable hoarding disorder than adults between 34 and 44 years old.
Types of Hoarding
While there are many types of hoarding, the most easily recognized form of hoarding is the hoarding of possessions. There are a wide variety of things that people hoard, including:
- Paper (mail, newspapers, magazines, etc.)
In extreme cases, people may hoard garbage and human waste products.
Others compulsively collect animals, like cats and dogs. Because this often results in large numbers of animals living in one place, animal hoarders may neglect or abuse their pets unintentionally. Like object hoarders, animal hoarders have a strong attachment to their animals. They often have trouble giving the animals up, even when the well-being of the animals is at stake. According to NAMI Massachusetts, 78 percent of animal hoarder homes are also heavily littered with garbage.
Hoarding Risk Factors
Anyone can develop hoarding disorder. However, there are a few hoarding risk factors that can make a person more likely to have this condition. These risk factors include having a family history of hoarding and living with co-occurring mental health disorders.
- Family History: The answer to the question “Does hoarding run in families?” is simple: yes. According to NAMI Massachusetts, genetic factors account for 50 percent of hoarding tendencies.
- History of OCD: Many people with hoarding disorder also live with other mental health conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). According to the International OCD Foundation:
- 1 in 4 people with OCD also participate in compulsive hoarding
- Nearly 1 in 5 compulsive hoarders have non-hoarding-related OCD symptoms
- Compulsive hoarding is a common symptom of an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
- Other Mental Health Disorders: Hoarding can also co-occur with a broad range of other mental health conditions, including substance use disorder, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and dementia.
Statistics on Hoarding Recovery
While a hoarding disorder can be difficult to treat, hoarding recovery statistics are promising for people who receive evidence-based hoarding treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy has shown the most success, with 70 percent of patients experiencing positive results. Comprehensive hoarding treatment typically also involves support groups and medication.
When co-occurring disorders, like addiction, are present alongside hoarding, it’s crucial that people with hoarding disorder seek out specialized care. In cases involving substance use disorder and other co-occurring mental health conditions, The Recovery Village provides comprehensive treatment that addresses both disorders. If you’d like more information, or are ready to get started, reach out to a representative today.
American Psychiatric Association. “What Is Hoarding Disorder?” Accessed January 2, 2019. International OCD Foundation. “Hoarding Fact Sheet.” Accessed January 2, 2019. National Alliance on Mental Illness Massachusetts. “Hoarding and OCD, Stats, Characteristics, Causes, Treatment and Resources.” Accessed January 2, 2019. Nexrigolu, Fugen. “Hoarding: The Basics.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Accessed January 2, 2019.
American Psychiatric Association. “What Is Hoarding Disorder?” Accessed January 2, 2019.
International OCD Foundation. “Hoarding Fact Sheet.” Accessed January 2, 2019.
National Alliance on Mental Illness Massachusetts. “Hoarding and OCD, Stats, Characteristics, Causes, Treatment and Resources.” Accessed January 2, 2019.
Nexrigolu, Fugen. “Hoarding: The Basics.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Accessed January 2, 2019.