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Hoarding Disorder

Hoarding Disorder is a mental illness. It involves difficulty discarding items and the excessive acquiring of items that most people would consider having little or no use or value. These items clutter living spaces in the home to a point where they cause harm or increase the chance of harm to the person. Harm may include attracting pests or growing mold, but can also include social harms such as stigma, shame, and loneliness due to fears of how other people will perceive the home and its residents. Excessive clutter also creates a potential hazard due to trips and falls, increased risk of fire, and lack of safety due to blocked exits and entrances, etc.


Many people have items in their homes that other people would consider to be excessive and unneeded or have clutter in their living spaces, however, for clutter to be considered a hoarding issue, it must be harmful or have the potential to cause harm.

Studies show that approximately 2 to 6% of people experience Hoarding Disorder and in Manitoba, that could be between 29,000 – 87,000 people. However, these numbers do not consider the family, friends, neighbours, support workers, and pets who may also be impacted by one person’s hoarding behaviours.

Behavioural treatments and support are available for people experiencing Hoarding Disorder in Manitoba. The OCD Centre Manitoba can help you find programs that fit your needs.

A type of therapy called cognitive-behavioural therapy (or ‘CBT’) is shown to be effective for helping people who experience Hoarding Disorder. It helps people understand how our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours work together, and teaches skills such as decision-making, problem-solving, managing stress, realistic thinking, and relaxation.

Support groups can also be very helpful. They are a good place to share experiences, learn from others, and connect with people who understand.

Supporting a loved one who experiences Hoarding Disorder can be challenging. Many people feel they must clean up after a loved one who hoards and they assume that they know what is appropriate to keep and discard. However, if done improperly, this approach may worsen the problem and cause the person who is hoarding to stop seeking help and support. Instead, consider these helpful approaches:


  • Set your own boundaries and seek extra support when you need it. Support groups for loved ones can be very helpful.
  • Every small step towards managing hoarding behaviours can take a lot of courage and hard work, so celebrate every victory.
  • Signs of Hoarding Disorder can be more difficult to manage during times of stress—and even happy occasions can be stressful. Recognize that a loved one may need extra support around the holidays, for example, and plan ahead.
  • Express the impact your loved one’s hoarding is having on your life.
  • Find other ways of relating to or connecting with your loved one.
  • Seek support to help you manage your own feelings and learn coping strategies such as through therapists, social workers, counselors, and/or peer support groups.

The OCD Centre Manitoba is a program of the Canadian Mental Health Association Manitoba and Winnipeg. Find out more about the education and supports offered by visiting OCD Centre Manitoba.