Animal hoarding occurs when an individual has a large number of animals but fails to meet the animals’ basic care needs (for example, failing to providing food and water, clean environment, and/or veterinary care). Animals in hoarding situations often live in poor environments, and suffer from malnutrition, severe overcrowding, and/or extremely unsanitary conditions. People who hoard animals often do not recognize the harm they are causing the animals. They may continue to acquire additional animals and/or strive to maintain their current number of animals despite the animals’ deteriorating health.
Animal hoarding may have similar symptoms to HD with regard to difficulty discarding and clutter in the home, and squalor conditions may be present in homes where animals are allowed to roam freely. However, it seems likely that animal hoarding results from different processes and responds to different kinds of treatment. Because different disorders require different treatments, it is important to make sure you receive the right diagnosis.
For more information and resources about animal hoarding, please click here.
In some cases, a person may appear to have HD when really they have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). This can occur when the apparent hoarding behaviors are the result of OCD symptoms. For example, contamination obsessions may prevent someone from touching things that have fallen to the floor, creating clutter in the home. A person who feels they must check and recheck documents may ignore piles of papers to avoid their checking rituals.
Here are some other differences between saving and clutter due to OCD and Hoarding Disorder:
- In OCD, the individual does not get any pleasure from saving things and the resulting clutter, which they find to be unwanted and highly distressing.
- Individuals with OCD are much less interested in the items they save. They have few sentimental attachments or beliefs about the value/worth of the items themselves.
- Excessive acquisition of items is rare among those with OCD-based saving and clutter.
Saving and clutter due to OCD is treated using the same treatment methods used for other types of OCD — exposure with response prevention (ERP) and/or medication. Click here to learn more about obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and to find treatment.