What Are Signs of Hoarding and What To Know

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hoardingThe term “hoarder” is thrown around a lot today, especially due to TV shows that illustrate the issue. So, where does the line fall between someone with a clutter problem, someone who has just fallen behind, and a genuine hoarder?

The good news is that desks piled with paper and even rooms filled with piles of clothes do not usually indicate a hoarding disorder. That’s much more likely to just be an issue with clutter, memory clutter, or challenges with organization and/or time management.

The first signs of hoarding include:

  • Compulsive shopping
  • Doors and/or stairwells that are blocked by stuff
  • Hiding a portion of the living space
  • Being late paying bills
  • Not allowing people to visit/always meets you elsewhere

Individually, those items don’t always mean a hoarding complex forming. Shopping and late bill paying could be linked and related to another issue, but when paired with hiding and accessibility issues, it can be a sign of hoarding.

What Defines a Hoarder?

The Mayo Clinic defines hoarding as “a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items.”

Hoarding is often related to, presents with, or develops after other mental disorders. The most common psychological conditions that appear with hoarding are obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression.

Above all, true hoarding is marked by a substantial decrease in a person’s quality of life. Shame and fear of being judged means that hoarders don’t let people visit. Their homes become a trap that can actually harm them because the risk of falling is greater and emergency exits are diminished. The obsession generally makes them unhappy, and cleanliness becomes an issue, which can lead to mold problems and unsanitary conditions.

Symptoms and Behaviors of Hoarding

Being disorganized or cluttered does not necessarily make you a hoarder. Instead, a level of psychological distress accompanies actual hoarding.

Nine warning signs of a hoarder are:

  1. Distress or inability to let go of items
  2. A need to keep things where you can see them but still not able to find them
  3. Excessively acquiring things that you don’t have space for and don’t need
  4. Clutter builds until home is unusable
  5. Indecisiveness, avoidance, procrastination, disorganization, and problems planning
  6. Must keep items due to perceived need, value, or emotional significance
  7. Obsession with not wasting things
  8. Feeling overwhelmed yet unable to change
  9. Obsessive thoughts about losing, discarding, or running out of something

How Common Is Hoarding?

Fortunately, it’s not very common. While hoarding was labeled a distinct mental illness in 2013 separate from OCD, only about 2-5% of the population actually suffer from a hoarding disorder. The frequent clutter and lack of time to deal with it that’s common in modern life makes hoarding seem more common, but they are distinctly different.

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When you’re ready to break bad habits, get organized, and store essential items only used occasionally, Box&Co can make things incredibly easy for you. All you have to do is ask for storage containers, and we’ll deliver them. Then, you pack your items and when you’re ready, we’ll pick your stuff up and store them. We’ll return your items when they’re needed, and you can keep track of your stored items online. To learn more, contact us today.