OCD Related Conditions Types of Hoarding and Treatment Options By Owen Kelly, PhD Owen Kelly, PhD Owen Kelly, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, professor, and author in Ontario, ON, who specializes in anxiety and mood disorders. Learn about our editorial process Updated on January 22, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Daniel B. Block, MD Medically reviewed by Daniel B. Block, MD LinkedIn Twitter Daniel B. Block, MD, is an award-winning, board-certified psychiatrist who operates a private practice in Pennsylvania. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print kali9 / Getty Images Hoarding is more than just having a lot of possessions. It's a specific type of behavior that can have a severe impact on a person's life. Although hoarding often occurs with obsessive-compulsive disorder, the two are not always linked. Overview Pathological or compulsive hoarding is a specific type of behavior marked by acquiring and failing to throw out a large number of items that would appear to have little or no value to others; severe cluttering of the person's home so that it is no longer a viable living space; and significant distress or impairment of a person's work or social life. Around 15% of people with OCD report hoarding as their main symptom and many others consider hoarding one of their OCD symptoms as well. Types Many people describe themselves as a "pack rat," that is, someone who enjoys collecting items and does not like to throw things away. Although many self-confessed pack rats lead normal lives, acquiring and failing to throw out a large number of items that seem to have little or no value to others could be a sign of compulsive hoarding, a behavior often associated with OCD. Animal Hoarding Many people enjoy the company of pets. For example, according to the Humane Society of the United States, 35% of Americans own at least one dog, with another 33% owning at least one cat. While most pet owners provide excellent care to one or two animals at most, for some people, the desire to keep animals as pets crosses the line into a compulsive behavior called animal hoarding. Compulsive Shopping Disorder Although it's not officially described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), it has been suggested that compulsive shopping disorder, also known as compulsive buying disorder, is a type of impulse control disorder. The characteristics of compulsive shopping disorder include preoccupation with shopping for unneeded items; spending a great deal of time doing research on coveted items and/or shopping for unneeded items; difficulty resisting the purchase of unneeded items; financial difficulties because of uncontrolled shopping; and finally, problems at work, school or home because of uncontrolled shopping. Is Compulsive Shopping Really an Addiction? Treatment Hoarding, either alone or in the presence of OCD, usually does not respond well to medical or psychological treatments. A number of studies have examined the effectiveness of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in the treatment of hoarding. Most investigations have found that only a third of patients who hoard show an adequate response to these medications. Results have been similar for other drugs affecting serotonin, such as the tricyclic antidepressant Anafranil (clomipramine). Efforts at treating hoarding with traditional cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) are also often ineffective. However, a cognitive therapy protocol designed specifically for hoarding shows considerable promise. Coping Although the clutter and squalor caused by hoarding often does not bother the hoarder themselves, it can be very frustrating and distressing for family members. Among the most distressing aspects of hoarding for family members is the lack of insight the hoarder often has into the consequences of their hoarding, even when threatened with legal action, eviction, or losing custody of their children. Overview of Hoarding Disorder By Owen Kelly, PhD Owen Kelly, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, professor, and author in Ontario, ON, who specializes in anxiety and mood disorders. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for OCD Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.