Individuals with hoarding disorder have a strong need to save items and are very distressed when they are forced to part with the items or even think about parting with the items.
Individuals do not have enough space to accommodate all the items they accumulate. Living areas become so crowded and cluttered that they cannot be used, except for storing hoarded items. For example, stacks of hoarded newspapers may fill the sink and cover the countertops, stove, and floor in the kitchen, preventing the kitchen from being used to prepare meals.
Hoarding often interferes with an individual’s ability to function at home and sometimes at work or school. For example, they may not allow other people, including family members, friends, and repairmen, into the house because they are embarrassed by the clutter.
The clutter may be a fire and safety hazard, or the home may become infested with pests.
Some individuals realise that hoarding is a problem, but many do not.
In animal hoarding, individuals accumulate more animals as pets than they have room for and can feed and provide veterinary care for.
They allow the animals to live in unsanitary conditions. Often, the animals are overcrowded and lose weight and/or become ill.
However, many individuals with the disorder do not recognise that they are not taking adequate care of the animals.
Animal hoarders are very attached to their pets and do not want to give them up.
Without treatment, symptoms typically continue throughout life, with little or no change.