ADHD and Hoarding

ADHD and Its Influence on Hoarding Behaviors

Hoarding tendencies can be more pronounced in individuals with ADHD, largely due to difficulties in decision-making, organization, and emotional attachment to objects. ADHD can impair the ability to sort, organize, and discard items, leading to the accumulation of possessions. To address this, implementing organizational systems, setting clear decluttering goals, and seeking professional help if needed are effective strategies. Understanding the link between ADHD and hoarding is crucial for managing this aspect of the disorder and maintaining a healthier, more organized living space.

Published on
30/3/2023
Updated on
15/11/2023
estimated reading time
minutes

Reviewed by

Alice

The mini Adhd coach
In this Article
Could it be ADHD? The Self-Assessment Workbook by The Mini ADHD Coach.
Start your ADHD diagnosis journey!

Visualize and assess 25 ADHD traits and understand how they affect your life.

Learn more

How Does Hoarding Relate to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

Having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can make decision-making quite a challenge. Do I have to keep these catsup packets or throw them away? When I have the impulsive urge to eat outside and get my most awaited reward for the week, there'll always be an instance when I'll ask myself such a question. For others, this may be a simple and non-substantial decision, but for someone with ADHD and hoarding behaviors, it can be a tough one 👌.

For those new to this website, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neurodivergent disorder where those diagnosed can have difficulties related to hyperactivity, impulsivity, or inattention (or everything mentioned). ADHD symptoms may include being easily distracted, having challenges organizing too much stuff, or having difficulty managing time ⌛. However, as ADHD is a complex disorder, the list of symptoms can still be extended.

Hoarding behavior, on the other hand, means that we have too many of something and they are stored in a chaotic way, resulting in unmanageable clutter. Please don’t confuse hoarding with proper collecting. 👍 

hoarding means collecting and storing lots of things

Well, who else does not accumulate a bit? I know someone who always keeps tissues from different restaurants, and sometimes I get weirded out by his way of collecting things. Then I remembered I also got some hoarding symptoms on my own, and this is through catsup packets that often get left out when I dine at restaurants 😅.

Understanding Hoarding Behaviors and the Reason Behind Them

People often say that there's always a logical reason behind how a person acts or why someone did something. For those with hoarding behaviors, a specific reason why they excessively collect some things often cannot be understood well 😞. Sometimes, they also collect things even if they do not hold any value. The excessive acquisition or hoarding of items can be traced back to some factors. However, these reasons are not absolute and are just probable causes of their hoarding behavior.

Out of Habit

Some people start collecting items because they find them cute or feel relaxed if they have many of these things. But, what may begin as collecting display items in living spaces can become a full-fledged hoarding behavior. And when things get out of hand, and there's a persistent difficulty in organizing them, the problem of hoarding gets real 😵‍💫.

Personality

We all have different characteristics as individuals. And some people might be more prone to hoarding because of their personality, situation, or how they perceive their situation. Usually, people hoard something because they overthink what will happen if they won't have these items in times of need. Others may hoard because they struggle to plan ahead of time or because of the intense feeling of satisfaction that they get after buying something or having a lot of items.

Previous Experiences

Adults needing help deciding whether or not it's worth keeping items can be due to their past experiences 💭. For example, childhood memories may influence someone's decision to hoard because they do not have plenty of stuff. Furthermore, if a person has gone through a traumatic experience or had to go through deprivation for some time, it can also lead them to have hoarding behavior.

Family or Environmental Reasons

When we are exposed to a particular group that exhibits symptoms, like within our homes or in the society that we live in, we may tend to mimic those traits unconsciously 😨. This could be one of the most probable explanations for hoarding behaviors. For instance, if a person has grown up in an environment where it is already common to collect and save items for future needs or projects, that individual may also take up this same habit.

Handling Emotions

One of the most common reasons someone tends to submit to compulsive hoarding behavior is their attachment to things. The excessive accumulation or severe hoarding of items can be caused by a need to fill an emotional void, like when someone has experienced some loss 😞. Some people might have difficulty discarding these things because they have immense sentimental value.

However, hoarding behaviors do not equate to hoarding disorder but rather a less impactful version. It is still essential to understand the root cause and act accordingly when managing hoarding behavior to prevent any problems from arising due to significant hoarding symptoms that can affect people's lives.

How Does Hoarding Become a Real Disorder?

Hoarding disorders can be diagnosed when someone with hoarding behavior gradually worsens. This means that too many items become excessive clutter, and we have already developed clinically significant stress levels due to this problem 👌. It also interferes with day-to-day life and causes problems such as sleeping difficulties, social anxiety, or depression.

Some people can have hoarding disorder

Research suggests that the underlying cause of hoarding disorder is not just a psychological issue but is also linked to neurological factors. For instance, some  studies indicate that people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) with hoarding disorder showed an imbalance in their brain's prefrontal cortex, 🧠 affecting a person's capability to assess the value of an object, decision-making skills, executive functioning, and emotional processing.

In simpler terms, when greater hoarding severity makes it difficult for us to live our daily life and causes a lot of distress and anxiety, it indicates that hoarding has become a real disorder. So to prevent this from spiraling out of control, a proper understanding of the condition and early intervention is vital. 🩺

Hoarding can be a disorder when it interferes everyday living
Visualize your ADHD traits!

Take our fun online quiz to visualize your ADHD traits and learn more about your brain!

TAKE THE FREE TEST

What Does Hoarding Disorder Get to Do with ADHD?

After researching the probable causes for hoarding, I wondered how prone we are to have this condition when we have ADHD. And looking back, emotional regulation, overthinking or worrying, and difficulties in organization can be some of the symptoms contributing to developing a hoarding disorder. These ADHD symptoms can be prevalent among adults, making them more vulnerable to developing a hoarding problem.

how does hoarding relate to ADHD?

Studies suggest that the general population of adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are more likely to develop hoarding behaviors 👌. We often have difficulties discarding our new hobbies and keeping them all to ourselves. Some people with ADHD are often referred to as “collectors” because they tend to acquire many objects and have difficulty getting rid of them after things get out of hand, primarily related to their hobbies.

ADHD and hoarding disorder can also be prevalent because of our impulsive buying behaviors. When we see something that attracts our brain and gives us that extra dopamine, we tend to buy them. When we see an advertisement on the television 📺, we tend to be more susceptible to purchasing that product with no proper understanding of the long-term cost or value we're likely to get out of it. Or when we become into new hobbies, like collecting supplies, we need to sustain those new-found interests.

Maybe It Is Not ADHD at All

Sometimes, being a hoarder of some things cannot be related to ADHD alone. And like ADHD, hoarding disorder can also be related to other mental health disorders 🤔. Originally, clinically significant hoarding symptoms were associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). But since continuous studies are done, hoarding can also be related to other mental health conditions, including.

hoarding can be caused by other disorders too

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Since hoarding disorder can become repeated behavior of someone struggling with it, experts believe it may be caused by compulsive hoarding. OCD symptoms, such as anxiety, intrusive thoughts, and excessive worry, can push us to acquire more items than we need. This type of hoarding can be seen as a coping mechanism for some people dealing with OCD, as it gives them a sense of safety and comfort when surrounded by stuff.

Depression

Another potential comorbid condition to hoarding disorder can be related to our emotional state. When we are depressed 😭, it can be harder to control our emotions and behaviors; this makes us more prone to developing a hoarding problem. Reports have shown that people with depression tend to acquire items for their homes, leading up to a point where it becomes difficult for them to function normally at home or work.

Psychotic Disorders

When one's perception or outlook regarding reality is distorted, it can increase the chances of developing a hoarding problem. Psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, can lead to disorganized behaviors that might include hoarding. These individuals are likely to acquire items without understanding how these objects will help them, so they need more space to store them well.

Other Mental Health Conditions

Hoarding symptoms can be present in other mental health conditions, such as eating disorders, anxiety, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

Getting Diagnosed: Hoarding Disorder

So you might be wondering if what you are doing is a mere collection of items or a full-blown hoarding disorder. When it comes to getting diagnosed, the diagnosis should be done by an expert, such as a mental health professional, psychiatrist, or psychologist (depending on your country). 🧑‍⚕️

Just like any other mental health condition, to be diagnosed with hoarding disorder, there should be a distressing effect on how hoarding can affect someone's everyday life and functioning. The assessment should include evaluating symptoms, the duration of those symptoms, and hoarding severity.

Since hoarding can be related to other mental health conditions, it is important to have a comprehensive look at the mental health condition being evaluated in order to provide proper treatment for the individual.

what are the signs of hoarding disorder

A few questions need to be answered to help the therapist determine if someone is indeed dealing with a hoarding disorder. These questions may include the following 🤔:

  • Does this person have difficulties discarding or parting with items regardless of the actual value?
  • If these items are not discarded, will they significantly distress the person?
  • If these items are to be kept, will they prevent the person from functioning normally in their daily life?
  • What other mental health conditions may this personal experience be, and how can they be related to hoarding behavior?

How To Manage ADHD and Hoarding Disorder?

When the questions above satisfy the probability of having a hoarding disorder, the person can be provided with a suitable treatment plan. Aside from a visit to a mental health professional or visiting an adult ADHD clinic, there are some steps that one can take to manage hoarding disorder better.

how can we manage hoarding?

Online ADHD groups or other support groups can help you get by on top of an ADHD Diagnosis. Through these communities 🧑‍🤝‍🧑, ADHD patients with hoarding symptoms or even OCD symptoms as well can help each other support their struggles by sharing experiences.

But if, in any case, you want to talk to a mental health professional, the best treatment plan can be possibly done through Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). This therapy works by reframing the person's thought process and helping them understand how their behavior manifests in hoarding.

There are also medicines available for managing ADHD and hoarding. Antidepressant medicines 💊 can help you get through depression, anxiety, and compulsive behavior associated with hoarding. Stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall can help improve a person's concentration and make it easier for them to reduce their hoarding.

With the proper support and treatment from our environment, compulsive hoarders with ADHD symptoms can improve their lives and make discarding and storing items more manageable 🤗.

ADHD & Hoarding FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is hoarding behavior? Is it the same as collecting items?

Someone may have hoarding behaviors when they have difficulty discarding items they no longer use or/and continue to collect items even when they already have too much of it. This can lead to clutter, stress, and significant interruption in daily living, by which time it means that it’s already become a disorder.

Is hoarding different from “collecting”?

If you collect things, are able to store them properly, and continue to live your life without having problems from unmanageable clutter - don’t worry, it’s probably not hoarding! Collecting, where you store and organize items properly, is different from hoarding.

How are ADHD and hoarding behavior related?

Hoarding can be a problem in itself or a symptom of another mental health condition, such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Hoarding can also be related to mental health disorders, such as ADHD. According to reports, there’s a link between ADHD and hoarding, although the exact connection is yet to be discovered.

Share this article on Social Media

Help us raise awareness around ADHD, let's spread ADHD love and support to all that need it.

If you liked this article you are going to like these ones:

Check out more content about similar topics: