OCD and Hoarding Differences

November 6th, 2018 by

Hoarding used to be classified under Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) as a symptom, but under the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-5, hoarding is now classified on its own under the category of “Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders”.


The criteria for OCD as defined in the DSM-5:

  1. Presence of obsessions, compulsion, or both:

Obsessions are defined by (1) and (2):

  1. Recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that are experienced, at some time during the disturbance, as intrusive and unwanted, and that in most individuals cause marked anxiety or distress.
  2. The individual attempts to ignore or suppress such thoughts, urges, or images, or to neutralize them with some other thought or action (i.e., by performing a compulsion).

Compulsions are defined by (1) and (2):

  1. Repetitive behaviors (e.g., hand washing, ordering, checking) or mental acts (e.g., praying, counting, repeating words silently) that the individual feels driven to perform in response to an obsession or according to rules that must be applied rigidly.
  2. The behaviors or mental acts are aimed at preventing or reducing anxiety or distress, or preventing some dreaded event or situation; however, these behaviors or mental acts are not connected in a realistic way with what they are designed to neutralize or prevent, or are clearly excessive.

Note: Young children may not be able to articulate the aims of these behaviors or mental acts.

  1. The obsessions or compulsions are time-consuming (e.g., take more than 1 hour per day) or cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
  2. The obsessive-compulsive symptoms are not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or another medical condition.
  3. The disturbance is not better explained by the symptoms of another mental disorder (e.g., excessive worries, as in generalized anxiety disorder; preoccupation with appearance, as in body dysmorphic disorder; difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, as in hoarding disorder; hair pulling, as in trichotillomania [hair-pulling disorder]; skin picking, as in excoriation [skin-picking] disorder; stereotypies, as in stereotypic movement disorder; ritualized eating behavior, as in eating disorders; preoccupation with substances or gambling, as in substance-related and addictive disorders; preoccupation with having an illness, as in illness anxiety disorder; sexual urges or fantasies, as in paraphilic disorders; impulses, as in disruptive, impulse-control, and conduct disorders; guilty ruminations, as in major depressive disorder; thought insertion or delusional preoccupations, as in schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders; or repetitive patterns of behavior, as in autism spectrum disorder).


The criteria for Hoarding as defined in the DSM-5:

  1. Persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value.
  2. This difficulty is due to a perceived need to save the items and to distress associated with discarding them.
  3. The difficulty discarding possessions results in the accumulation of possessions that congest and clutter active living areas and substantially compromises their intended use. If living areas are uncluttered, it is only because of the interventions of third parties (e.g., family members, cleaners, authorities).
  4. The hoarding causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (including maintaining a safe environment for self and others).
  5. The hoarding is not attributable to another medical condition (e.g., brain injury, cerebrovascular disease, Prader-Willi syndrome).
  6. The hoarding is not better explained by the symptoms of another mental disorder (e.g., obsessions in obsessive-compulsive disorder, decreased energy in major depressive disorder, delusions in schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder, cognitive deficits in major neurocognitive disorder, restricted interests in autism spectrum disorder).

Hoarding and OCD Causes

It’s not entirely clear what causes OCD and Hoarding however there are some research that has linked genetics, brain functionality, and when it comes to hoarding there have been links to a traumatic event. Brain functionality could mean damaged or impaired functionality either from illness, drugs, or physical damage.

The Difference between OCD and Hoarding

OCD is having reoccurring thoughts, urges, or images and having a compulsion to try to minimize or remove  them whereas hoarding is having not an obsession with the items but rather having difficulty in letting things go. OCD compulsions such as hand washing, counting, or repetitive tasks to minimize or reduce the persistent thoughts or urges can result in disruptions to daily life and may cause avoidance of social situations. Hoarding results in clutter due to the difficulty in letting things go which can affect the health of the home environment and avoidance of having anyone entering the home.

What is Behavioral Therapy?

Behavioral Therapy is therapy to treat mental disorders. The therapy is used to identify and change self-destructive or unhealthy behaviors by changing some behaviors and creating new behaviors through activities and exercises. One of the most common forms is “cognitive behavioral therapy” which combines cognitive therapy with behavioral therapy which uses problem solving to meet goals of changing patterns of thinking and behaviors.


Therapist List:

  • ABCT – Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies
  • ADAA – Anxiety and Depression Association of America
  • IOCDF – International OCD Foundation


OCD and Hoarding

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Florida Hoarding Resources

September 27th, 2018 by

Hoarding is classified in DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as a separate from OCD. Compulsive hoarding affects approximately 700,000 to 1.4 million people in the US

Understanding Hoarding

Signs of Hoarding

  • Buildup of clutter that blocks either pathways, furniture, or entire rooms
  • Overwhelmed or loss of energy feeling upon seeing or entering a room with clutter
  • Not letting anyone inside including repairmen and avoiding inviting anyone over
  • A need to take free items (condiment & sugar packets, flyers) regardless of need
  • Losing important items in the clutter like bills, legal documents, and favorite items
  • A purchasing items without an immediate need or stocking up unnecessarily
  • Replacing a new appliance and putting it next to the broken one

Hoarding Therapists

  • ABCT – Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies
  • ADAA – Anxiety and Depression Association of America https://members.adaa.org/search/custom.asp?id=4685
  • IOCDF – International OCD Foundation

Community Resources

  • Lee County – http://leehoardingtaskforce.com/
  • Pasco County – http://www.pascocountyfl.net/2846/Hoarding-Task-Force
  • Volusia County Hoarding Task Force – contact Richard Lovett by email at rlovett@deltonafl.gov, or call 2-1-1
  • http://www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/adult-protective-services
  • https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/groups/florida

Online Resrouces

  • https://www.reddit.com/r/hoarding
  • https://www.reddit.com/r/ChildofHoarder/
  • https://hoardingcleanup.com/chat_room
  • https://hoardingcleanup.com/message_board
  • http://childrenofhoarders.com/wordpress/?page_id=3968

Hoarding Facts

  • Hoarding is linked to a traumatic event, childhood abuse, or neglect
  • There are different types of hoarding.
  • Hoarding runs in the family.
  • Hoarding can affect the mind causing stress, anxiety, and loss of energy.
Florida Hoarding Resources

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How to Declutter

June 20th, 2018 by

How to Declutter

How many times have you thought about the clutter and realized it was time to clean it, but for some reason when you go to clean it, don’t have the energy to clean it anymore? There are studies into the effects of clutter on the mind and your energy levels. It is very common to be overwhelmed by the large task ahead and decide to put it off until a later time. Having a plan, a system, and support goes a long way in accomplishing your goals of decluttering you home.   


First decide your goals and your plan to achieve them. What are you trying to accomplish? Are you just trying to make room for new things or a new use of the room? Are you planning to move and are looking in downsizing to prepare for the move? Are you decluttering to get more use out of the current space? Try to plan your goals to decide how much clutter should be removed and how you will remove them. If you are downsizing, you will probably need a dumpster or a truck to remove the items to either a storage facility or donation center. If you are just looking to get more room out of the current space, you may want to investigate organizational tips, containers, and tools such as a label maker.  

Start Small 

Feeling overwhelmed is the one of the most common reasons people don’t declutter and give up. Starting small and never stopping are ways to combat the feelings of being overwhelmed. If it is a room that is overwhelming, then pick an area to start with and only clean the area. It could be as simple as clearing off a table or a shelf. Don’t finish and not pick it back up, keep the momentum going. If you finish the table, move on to something else if there is time. If time doesn’t permit and you have obligations such as work during the week, then try decluttering 1-3 things a day. Try to pick things that need removal and discard them or place them in a container for donation. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu. I would like to add that the journey doesn’t end if you take a few steps every day.   

Determine What is Clutter 

Define what your clutter is to yourself. How long do you keep something that you no longer use? When do you throw away sentimental clutter such as cards? Are your decorations out of style or no longer desired?

Closet Clutter –  

Take all your clothes on hangers and place them the opposite way as usual. When you take an item out and use it, it should be returned in the original way you had it. If you take an item out, but don’t use it, it should go back in the way you took it out as you didn’t use it and it still might be clutter. Determine an appropriate length of time for you. It could be a month or two or seasonal, you will see all the hangers still in the opposite way as clothes you don’t use and probably should be discarded or donated.  

Label Maker and Out Dated Clutter –  

Do you have a collection of something like DVDs/Blu Rays? When is the last time you watched all of them? Use a label maker and mark the day you label them or started labeling them if it takes a few days. Create a new label every time you use the item. Give it some time and check back at the dates, do you really need all the items in the collection if you haven’t used them in a long time? 

Sentimental Clutter –

Sentimental clutter can be difficult to let go of because of the emotional attachment to them. It isn’t usually an actual attachment to the item, but rather an attachment to the memory of the person, moment, or idea that the item represents. If you were given a stuffed animal at an amusement park, it’s the memory of the moment you don’t want to let go of. If you have a clutter issue with all the sentimental items, here is a tip – take a photograph and a note. Take a photo of the item and make a note of the day, item, person, or idea that you remember and why you kept it. Putting down the memory you are trying to keep on the note will ensure if you look at the photo and note, it will still have the impact you desire without taking up all the needed space.  

Use a System 

Having a system to remove the clutter will help kept you on track and focused. There is a popular system known as the 3 bin or container method. This method entails taking 3 containers labeled: Keep, Store, and Remove. While going through your clutter you place items into one of the containers. The items in the container labeled remove could be discarded or donated.  

Keep Motivated 

Keep the motivation going to help overcome being overwhelmed and stay on track of your goals. This is an easy thing to overlook but one of the hardest. How many people start going to the gym for a week, but never return? Staying motivated is very hard for people but there are a few tips and tricks that help.  

Keep Routine to Keep Momentum –
Keeping consistent will eventually make it a habit. Cleaning 1-3 items of clutter everyday will keep the momentum going.  

Use Visuals – 

Having a checklist or a calendar with small goals will help keep the progress going and help determine if you are falling behind and might need some professional cleaning help.  

Use a Support Group

If you are being overwhelmed by clutter, you are not alone and there are support groups online and some local ones. Talking to someone who also is going through the same issues as you can help and also keep you both motivated. Support groups can help provide answers to questions you don’t know you have yet. 



Differences of Regular House Cleaning Service and Hoarding House Cleaning Service

May 28th, 2018 by

House cleaning vs hoarding cleaning

When your residency is dirty, and you don’t have the time, energy, ability, or knowledge of how to clean it properly you call a professional cleaning service. What cleaning service you call depends on your needs as not every cleaning service is the same. There are commercial kitchen cleaning services that are trained to clean the exhaust systems and/or the industrial ovens and stoves. When it comes to the home, there are a few different services as well. The common ones include maid service, deep cleaning, junk removal, organizers, and hoarding cleaning and clutter cleaning.   


Maid Service / House Cleaning Service 

This is the most common service that you would use to clean your home. They will do the normal house cleaning services including bed making, vacuuming, surface cleaning, however they will not do everything. The other house cleaning services differ by the cleaning company as some have the training and willingness and others simply refuse to do other services like: oven and appliance cleaning, laundry, outside windows, power washing, and the other cleaning services listed below.    


Deep Cleaning Service 

Deep cleaning is an extremely thorough cleaning on areas that are not part of the normal cleaning routine. Usually a deep cleaning occurs after a tenant moves out or part of a yearly maintenance routine. What a deep cleaning service includes depends on the cleaning company and their workers skills.  Some examples of a deep cleaning would be: full oven clean out, moving heavy appliances and cleaning around them such as washers and dryers, the grime in window sills and other crevices in the home, windows inside and outside, under sinks, floor waxing, and other areas that only get cleaned once or twice a year.  A deep clean service is usually only ordered once or twice a year.  


Junk Removal 

When your storage area is overfilling full of unneeded or unwanted clutter it may be time to call for junk removal services. The downside of a junk removal company is that they don’t take the time to go through your belongings to determine things you would like to keep. The service is usually cheaper than a hoarding cleaning service however, it is up to you to go through all the clutter and take out the keepsakes and only leave the unwanted clutter. There may be other rules, depending on the junk removal company, such as you remove the items from your home yourself and putting them in area ready for pickup.   


Professional Organizers 

Organizers don’t usually perform any cleaning or clutter removal. They are useful if you have a lot of clutter that you still would like to keep but only use sparingly. Organizers can create structure and order for your belongings and make sure a place for everything and everything in its place.   


Hoarding Cleaning / Clutter Cleaning 

Hoarding cleaning and clutter cleaning is when the company comes in and works with you to remove only what you want and get back the home to a livable or useable condition. This might be taking everything out and sorting them into areas or piles to distinguish what goes back or what gets donated or discarded. Once the room has been cleared the cleaning team cleans the room and puts the keepsakes back. This process could take many days even for a team of cleaners.  

Decluttering Method

October 6th, 2017 by

Decluttering MethodHaving too much stuff around the house can actually cause stress and drain your energy levels. If you find as you go along your house, you are focusing on the things around you rather than the day’s task ahead, it’s time to declutter. This is a guide on a one method of decluttering.



What is Clutter?

Clutter are objects in your home that no longer serve a purpose or have become unwanted. You may have decorations that you no longer like but rather than discard them you just put new decorations in their place or put them into storage. Things for the hobbies that you no longer have time for or have interest in. Projects that you were going to get to but didn’t have time to start. Depending on how long it has been since you have used the objects mentioned, they may be clutter that is just filling space.


When is Clutter a Problem?

If you find yourself low on energy as you walk around the house, you may be stressed out from clutter laying around. Clutter can affect the mind and cause stress which can cause physical symptoms such as lower concentration, lower energy, and anxiety. If you are spending too much time on the things around your house, clutter has become a problem. Another issue with clutter is restricting the usability of your home. If you can’t use your kitchen table, a room is filled with clutter, or you have run out of storage area and containers are filling other areas of your home, then clutter is becoming a problem.


Choosing Where to Start

You may have a few rooms full of clutter and not sure where to start. You should list the rooms you want to clean and prioritize which would be the most useful. The storage area (attic, shed, or garage) might be more beneficial as it will allow you to use the room as a buffer to clean a more useful room such as the kitchen or bathroom. By having the storage area clear, you might be able to put all of the rest of the rooms’ clutter in the area and can manage the now filled storage area into a segmented cleaning project.


Decluttering Method

Start Small

Clutter can overwhelm you and drain your energy levels. Thinking about the whole room and how much there is can overwhelm you to the point you don’t get started. If you start with just 1 area at a time, you will make progress and not get as overwhelmed. Sometimes it’s best just to go over to the area and pick something up, the first step to getting started is to start.

Use a System (The 3 Container Method)

A very popular method is the 3-container method. You take 3 containers, they could be plastic bins, trash bags, laundry baskets, or just make 3 clean areas on the floor for piles. The 3 containers are for: keep, remove, and store. Sometimes there is a forth for donation or selling. Take an object from the area you are decluttering and place it into one of the bins. If you are unsure of whether you want to get rid of it, try hoarding help’s guide on deciding whether it’s trash or treasure.

Follow Through

Another issue that happens is after some progress on decluttering is made, some just stop. After making progress, some will decide “It’s enough for today” and not get back to it the next time they have some free time or they don’t discard the items in the “remove” container. It’s ok to take a break for health reasons but if the project is taking too long it may be time to call professional clutter cleaners. They can remove a whole house’s worth of clutter in a few days.

Things to Think About

There are somethings that should be properly disposed of such as batteries, paint, oil and other household chemicals. Call your municipal clerk to find the proper disposal facilities.

You might want to dispose of some items and make some money while you are at it. If you feel you can follow through on a yard sale or selling and shipping an item online, then you may make some money from your unwanted clutter. If you don’t think you could follow through, there are still some options such as donation or a local consignment shop or a local store that sells the items online for you.

If you have a lot to dispose of or some larger pieces of clutter, you may want to consider renting a dumpster.


The Dangers of Hoarding

August 30th, 2017 by

The Dangers of Hoarding

Hoarding can be very dangerous to your health, mental state, and your home. Hoarding dangers can include: mold growth, bug infestations, structural damage, and tripping hazards. Hoarding has been known to also overwhelm the mind, cause stress, anxiety, and drain energy levels. If you are going to clean a hoarding situation there are a few things you should be aware of. 

Health Hazards

Hoarding can cause health issues. Mold can grow in areas unable to be seen. Mold spores are dangerous to those allergic, and to those who aren’t, still cause breathing problems. Bug infestations can be very dangerous to your health. Some bugs are dangerous just by their bite, such as the West Nile virus from mosquitos, and Lyme disease from ticks, other bugs can carry and spread bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella. Cockroaches can contribute to childhood asthma and allergies, spread bacteria, and grow in population rapidly. Hoarding can also bring infestations of rodents such as mice and rats that can also bring bacteria, diseases, and viruses such as the Hantavirus which can be fatal. Unsanitary conditions can be particularly dangerous for immunocompromised individuals, as human or animal feces can spread airborne bacteria. Urine can raise ammonia levels to dangerous exposure levels and be harmful to those with cardiac or respiratory conditions. The much more common problems with hoarding are the tripping hazards which can cause broken bones and fracture hips especially in the elderly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013, 25,500 older adults died from unintentional falls.

Hazardous to Those That Help

Hoarding can also be harmful to those who are trying to help. Emergency workers have been injured trying to help the hoarder during lifesaving emergencies and there have been a few cases of firefighters dying after being trapped by the clutter.

Clutter can be a Deathtrap

Aside from the tripping hazards, clutter can be a deathtrap. Clutter piles can fall and block paths to get around the house or block airflow causing either low levels of oxygen or cool air on hot days. Clutter can fall on vents or block other airways, causing a lack of oxygen and raising carbon dioxide levels. This can be very dangerous as the hoarder might not notice difficulty in breathing until it is too late. Heavier clutter can also fall on the hoarder and potentially injure them or trap them under the pile of clutter.

Cleaning Hazards

The cleaning process can also be dangerous and proper planning should be considered. Mold spores may be released into the air and breathed in. Bugs can scatter if their habitats are disturbed, and can bite the one who disturbed them or those nearby. Bug bites can contain either venom or harmful bacteria, and also carries the danger of becoming infected. There is a risk that mold or water damage may have weakened the structure and as the area is cleaned could collapse. Cleaners can be hazardous if there isn’t enough airflow to carry the noxious fumes away. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have professionals help with the cleaning process. Professionals such as exterminators, pest control, and contractors (if you suspect mold or structural damage) should be consulted to assess any potential dangers before the cleaning project begins. Hoarding cleaning companies are trained with cleaning hoarding situations and have experience with all the dangers associated with hoarding. Hoarding cleaning companies can assess the situation and will know if a professional such as a contractor, pest control, or an exterminator is necessary in the cleanup process. The cleaning process can be dangerous and should be carefully planned out regarding the dangers listed above.