5 Hoarding Signs

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), hoarding is defined as the compulsive purchasing, acquiring, searching, and saving of items [regardless of value].

People hoard for many reasons, among them the belief that their possessions will be useful or valuable in the future, have sentimental value, are unique and irreplaceable, or because they can't decide where something goes, it's better just to keep it. Examples of commonly hoarded items: clothing, newspapers, magazines, bags, boxes, photographs, household supplies, and food. We've compiled a list of signs below based around these very tendencies.

  • You continue to acquire things without getting rid of anything

For those with hoarding tendencies, acquiring items is an emotional experience. Dr. Annette Perot, a licensed psychologist who specializes in anxiety issues and hoarding, notes the following, "Many of us buy things because it feels good, even though that feeling is only temporary. So, for people with hoarding issues, buying or saving items can be done in order to create more positive feelings."

  • Your "stuff" has taken over

There is a difference between collecting and hoarding. Collectors seek out specific items, while hoarders buy or keep items impulsively. A collection will be organized and planned, while a hoard is disorganized, and overwhelming. Randy O. Frost, a professor of psychology at Smith College says that the difference between "collecting" and hoarding is in how the collection is stored and organized. "For the person whose collecting has become hoarding, possessions become unorganized piles of clutter that are so large that they prevent rooms from being used for normal activities."

  • Your living areas have limited seating or room due to clutter

In some cases, individuals are living with such cramped conditions that their home may be filled to capacity, with only narrow pathways winding through stacks of clutter. Some individuals designate at least one specific room in their home to the accumulation. It's a major challenge to get rid of unwanted items A huge warning sign with this tendency is the idea that you might "need it someday."

  • There's so much stuff, you don't want to have visitors

Many hoarders admit that clutter causes feelings of "shame" and don't want others to witness the accumulations.

If you or someone you know is struggling with hoarding, please reach out to a psychologist, someone you feel comfortable with (whether it be a family member or friend), or a professional organizer (especially for moderate to severe cases). A professional organizer can help you solve the clutter problem, but you will also need a psychologist to help you solve the root of the hoarding problem. Professional organizers cannot diagnose a condition. Usually a psychologist will help you uncover and treat issues like previous traumatic events, stress, anxiety, or a variety of other conditions.