Do You Or Do You Know Someone

Who Suffers From Destructive Hoarding?

First of all, you are not a “Hoarder” if you tend to be disorganized and have too much clutter in your life.  So, just because your home is messy and you may have too much “junk” in your house, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a candidate to appear for the revival of Hoarders.   However, excessive clutter and poor organization can be a warning sign that you are suffering from problem hoarding behavior, or you are on the path to having a full-blown hoarding problem.

FYI- I will use hoarding and any variants unless indicated otherwise, to include only individuals suffering from  Hoarding Disorder. (“Hoarding”)

The key difference between simple clutter, disorganization, and Hoarding Disorder pertains to why disorganization and clutter happen in the first place.  For example, there are many reasons someone would be unclean or disorganized and are not suffering from hoarding. Some of those reasons are  the following:

  • Too busy
  • Feeling Overwhelmed
  • Need a strategy
    Lack Of Support

A decluttering regime, organizational skills, and time management will help you address the above problems.  However,  if you suffer from problem hoarding, you likely can only be helped by a mental health professional who, preferably, has experience dealing with hoarding.Hoarding Problem

When Do You Have A Hoarding Problem?

Hoarding doesn’t happen overnight as disorganization and clutter can progressively change from mild clutter to problem hoarding. The first symptoms of hoarding generally begin at a younger age. However,  these initial symptoms are often so so mild that they aren’t noticed, or they are ignored.

For example, early symptoms of hoarding may be accumulating items and a reluctance to part with non-essentials like empty food containers, newspapers, and trash.  These first symptoms may not seem initially concerning. But over time, the problem escalates where a hoarder’s living space becomes essentially unliveable. Once the pattern of being messy or unwilling to throw things away morphs into hoarding, people move from being reluctant to being psychologically unable to stop their destructive behaviors.

Some of the first signs of hoarding include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Buying multiples pieces of the same product
  • Buying unneeded items
  • Refusing to throw away trash
  • Stacking like products in rows
  • Cluttered things begin to invade your living spaces
  • Severe Hoarding Symptoms

Some of the more common full-blown, destructive, hoarding symptoms are the following:

  • Refusal to get rid of unneeded property or remove excess clutter
  • An inappropriate sense of security based on a particular piece of property
  • Unfounded belief that items – including trash – have significant personal value
  • A feeling that certain things will be needed for future use

A problem Hoarder’s home eventually becomes unsafe and unhabitable because of unsanitary conditions and cramped living space.   Also, because of excessive junk, Hoarders are more likely to trip and fall.  One particular severe problem is when hoarding involves pets.  A hoarder will often take in multiple pets, and they are unable to take care of their pets properly.  As a result, too many pets lead to unsanitary and unsafe conditions for the hoarder and also the animals.

How To Get Help

If you have watched the show Hoarders, have family members who are problem Hoarders, or perhaps you have this issue yourself, you will realize that hoarding is not an issue, which is solved overnight.  Therefore, this article is not meant as a solution for solving someone’s hoarding problem. Simply put, problem hoarders need professional help, which is beyond the scope of this article. I will, though, briefly go over various ways for you to seek help.

First of all, this disorder is not easy to fix as Hoarders, due to embarrassment, denial, or other reasons may avoid getting help. Additionally, treatment is painful due to the reluctance of the hoarder to give up their possessions, and if they do get rid of their property they often have an overwhelming urge to replace the property that was removed.

One of the best ways for you to get help for problem Hoarders is to try to get them to see a mental health professional for other reasons.  For example, hoarders often suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.  So, if the hoarder is suffering from anxiety or depression, you may want to see if they are willing to seek mental health counseling.  Consequently, upon seeking help, the psychologist or psychiatrist can help diagnose and treat not only the depression and anxiety but also address the hoarding behaviors.


Hoarding is a problem.  However, with time and professional help, the hoarder’s instincts can be either controlled or even solved. If you or someone you love is experiencing hoarding symptoms, early intervention is critical. Being able to address your hoarding problem early and get a treatment plan early can make a big difference in the chance of success.



The Mayo Clinic has an excellent resource on Hoarding Disorder, which can be accessed Here.