Hoarding Disorder Symptoms: How to Know if You Have a Problem

Unless you’re a minimalist, chances are you have some clutter in your home. Usually, the clutter is a bit stressful and overwhelming but it’s not ruining your life.

If you’ve gotten to the point where you can’t find anything, there are mountains of stuff everywhere, and you’re having trouble keeping anything clean, you may have hoarding disorder symptoms. And they’re no joke.

If you’re worried you may have signs of hoarding, keep reading. We’re sharing everything you need to know about why people hoard and what you can do about it.

Hoarding Disorder Symptoms

Many people are confused about the difference between being what’s known as a “pack rat” or a “collector” and being a hoarder. A collector or pack rat tends to display their items rather than keeping them in disarray.

The definition of hoarding is when someone struggles with the following three problems:

  1. They collect and keep almost everything, even if it has little or no value to most everyone else.
  2. The items take up so much of the living space that no one can use the room(s) as intended.
  3. The items cause problems and stress in their daily lives and activities including work and social functions.

Thankfully, with the right help, you can overcome many of these symptoms by learning new, healthy habits.

The Psychology of Hoarding

Why do people hoard? There are many factors that contribute to this psychological issue.

But unfortunately, medical professionals still have not found any clear causes for a hoarding disorder. However, they have found that the disorder tends to start between ages 11-15.

And it gets worse as the person gets older. There are certain risk factors that most hoarders have.

Stressful Life Events

One huge risk factor is stressful life events. In fact, the term “hoarding” enjoyed a peak year in 1937 thanks to the Great Depression. That extremely stressful event led many people to compulsively save everything no matter what.

Family History

There’s also a strong correlation between hoarding and your family history. This is especially true if someone in your family has the disorder themselves.


And your personality also plays a factor in whether or not you’ll struggle with hoarding disorder. Especially if you struggle with indecisiveness.

Different Forms of Hoarding

There’s not just one type of hoarding. One person may only have a mild form of hoarding while someone else’s hoarding has gotten so bad it’s become life-threatening.

It’s important to recognize what level you or your loved one is at so you can get the right type of help. The sooner someone recognizes they need help, the easier and less expensive it is to clean up their homes and lives.

Read more here to learn what the different types of hoarding are so you can get the help that you or a loved one needs.

The Complications from Hoarding

It’s not just that having too much stuff is a problem. It’s the issues that arise when you have so much clutter that it’s taken over your life.

Inevitably, complications such as an increased risk of falls occur when you have to step over items in order to move about your own home. You are also at an increased risk of having items fall on you.

Often, hoarding causes problems within the family structure. It’s not easy to be the hoarder or to live with someone who has this disorder. Often, these problems lead to loneliness and social isolation.

Then there are the fire hazards, unsanitary conditions, and possible legal issues that all arise when your home become overridden by clutter, garbage, and infestations.

6 Signs of Hoarding

It’s important to understand the signs of hoarding. If you think you or someone else may be a hoarder, it’s time to get the help you deserve. Here are six signs to look out for.

1. Portions of Your Home Are Unusable

The problem with clutter is where to put your items. Hoarders usually have so many belongings that they don’t know where to keep anything.

Rather than organizing the items, things are instead kept in disorganized piles. It often ends up piling up and blocking out portions of your home such as entire rooms or closets until they become unusable.

2. Items You Keep Hold No Value

Shoes with no mate, clothing with stains and holes, and magazines you’ll never read. None of these items hold any value to anyone but the hoarder.

In fact, most of the stuff is probably ready for the dumpster.

Yet, for some reason, the hoarder finds what they think is a perfectly reasonable explanation for why they must keep these items. If you don’t use it, like it, or truly need it, there’s no reason to keep it.

3. There’s No Organization Involved in Storing Items

Organizing is a skill that must be learned. Unfortunately, some hoarders were not taught proper organizing skills. Others are reacting to an overly strict upbringing where everything had to be in an exact place.

Without organization, it’s difficult to find anything. Putting similar items together and having a designated spot for each item helps you find everything you need.

4. You Become Defensive When Confronted

There’s a stigma attached to hoarding. It’s easy for someone to feel defensive when confronted with their disorder.

No one likes to admit they have a problem. And it’s embarrassing to be caught living with dirt, dust, and insects.

If you feel angry and defensive when someone tries to bring up the fact that you are struggling with hoarding, it’s a good sign it’s time to get some help.

5. You Won’t Give Up Your Items

If you can’t give up your items, no matter how old, useless or disgusting they are, there’s a problem. While we all sometimes get emotionally attached to certain items, hoarders tend to get emotionally attached to all of their items.

Learning how to let go is incredibly empowering and allows you to take back control over your own life.

6. You Have Other Mental Illnesses

It’s not uncommon for hoarders to also have other mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, OCD, and ADHD.

While those additional illnesses do make getting help a little harder, it’s not impossible. Finding a trustworthy mental health practitioner to help you get a handle on your mental illnesses can help greatly.

It’s Time to Get Rid of Your Stuff

Even if you or someone you love has hoarding disorder symptoms, all is not lost. Little by little, it’s possible to go through the items and get rid of anything that’s not essential or in good shape.

And, you can even make a little money by purging. Click here to find the best online sites where you can sell your stuff.

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