The Connection Between ADHD and Hoarding
About two-thirds of adults with an ADHD diagnosis have at least one other condition, such as depression or anxiety. One such condition is Hoarding Disorder.
Hoarding Disorder is a recognized condition that involves excessive accumulation to a level that can lead to distress or difficulties in everyday life and can contribute to depression and anxiety. There are 3 characteristics of hoarding, including:
- Excessive accumulation and a difficulty removing discarding items.
- Some or all living spaces cannot be used for their intended purpose.
- Distress or impairment in functioning to the person hoarding or others they are associated with.
A recent study, published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, found that people with ADHD are significantly more likely to also exhibit hoarding behaviors. Researchers compared hoarding behavior in ADHD individuals with a neurotypical control group. They found that 19% of the ADHD group displayed clinically significant hoarding symptoms. They were on average in their 30s and split equally in terms of gender. Among the remaining 81%, the researchers also found significant hoarding issues but not the degree that it impaired their lives.
More About Hoarding
As Hoarding Disorder has received greater attention from the scientific and clinical community, more is known about it, including:
- Hoarding may have a genetic component – Between 50 and 84 percent of those who hoard have a close family relative who hoards. There are four chromosomes with markers in common in those who suffer from Hoarding Disorder.
- Hoarding is now more closely associated with ADHD rather than OCD – Traditionally, hoarding has been associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD is a condition characterized by obsessions that lead to compulsive behaviors. However, newer research now suggests that hoarding may be more closely linked to ADHD than OCD. Both ADHD and hoarding share difficulties with executive functioning – having difficulty focusing, paying attention, being impulsive and making decisions.
- Hoarding is a global problem – Hoarding is found in all cultures, income, education levels, and happens for many different reasons.
- People in certain professions might be more vulnerable to hoarding – For example, people who have professions where the production, storage, and retrieval of documents (hard copy or digital) is key to their performance, may be at higher risk for developing Hoarding Disorder.
- Hoarding situations do not resolve over time – They will continue to deteriorate until the health and safety of the individual and community are put at risk.
- There is no universal hoarder profile – Those who hoard are very diverse even though their hoarded environments may appear similar.
Steps to Prevent or Help with Hoarding
Below are some tips experts recommend for how to prevent your ADHD from turning into hoarding:
- Create a schedule for cleaning and decluttering – ADHD can make it difficult to prioritize tasks, so creating an organizational schedule can help you keep up on tasks, like cleaning and decluttering.
- Try different methods of decluttering – Decluttering can come in many shapes and forms, from simple spring-cleaning sessions to more detailed methods, such as the Konmari method.
- Hire someone to help you sort through items – Hoarding tendencies can become overwhelming, and, sometimes, professional help is a great way to sort through larger amounts of personal items.
- Create daily routines that stop clutter before its starts – For example, put items away rather than putting them down. Don’t tell yourself “it’s just for now.” Make some time for decluttering every day – even if it’s just for 15 minutes.
- Seek therapy and treatment for your ADHD – Without addressing the underlying behaviors that lead to hoarding tendencies, it may be more difficult to keep your home clean and decluttered.
Hoarding doesn’t improve by itself. If you have concerns that your ADHD may be creating a hoarding problem, seek help with a mental health professional to discuss it in more detail.