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How To Tell If You Are A Hoarder


The signs of someone with a hoarding problem are pretty obvious. You may notice that countertops, stoves, sinks, stairways, desks, and other surfaces are generally piled with stuff. And sometimes, this clutter can even reach the garage or yard. So, what is hoarding, and does it occur all of a sudden? The answer is, No. A hoarding problem doesn’t happen overnight, and you can see the warning signs from the very beginning. 

How Is Hoarding Different From Collecting? 

People who love to collect different things like coins, stamps, wine, or comic books, basically organize their collection pretty well and feel proud to show it to others. On the other hand, hoarders generally store large quantities of items that don’t have any real value in a haphazard way and are often embarrassed to let anyone else visit their living space. 

So, how to tell if you or your loved one is a hoarder? Here are five warning signs that you or someone you know may have a hoarding disorder. 

  • De-cluttering, even a tiny area, feels like a significant job

Even a small amount of clutter can seem like a tedious task to someone with a hoarding problem. More precisely, such a person may feel difficulty sorting possessions efficiently. A hoarder may think of endless ways to use the stuff and eventually keep them all. Someone without a hoarding problem would easily sort things and get rid of unnecessary items. 

  • Parts of your home become unusable

Everyday clutter is something we all have in our homes. However, you’ll know there’s a problem when a part of your home becomes useless because of storing unnecessary stuff. Or, if you enter someone’s room and find the furniture has been slowly moved into the middle of a room as the rest of the space is filled with useless objects, that person may have a possible hoarding disorder. 

  • The hoarded items are usually of no value

With compulsive hoarders, you’ll find a lot of stuff that is generally useless. Some signs of compulsive hoarding include storing old newspapers, magazines, mails, or catalogs. In other cases, such a person can’t give away clothes even if they don’t fit or have gone out of fashion because they think they might wear them someday. 

  • Social isolation could be another sign

In some cases, hoarders often stay away from friends and family to hide the ongoing problem. Some even don’t invite people over for a get-together or dinner because there’s no place to sit or visit comfortably. However, there could be many reasons why someone doesn’t want to meet people, so make sure you talk to the person to know the actual reason. 

  •  Feeling trouble finding things or resisting to store things out of sight.

Because of the quantity of the stuff, a hoarder may face difficulty finding usual things. People with a hoarding problem insist on keeping things in sight to avert the situation. People who hoard are usually comforted when their possessions are in sight and may resist storing their things in filing, closets, cabinets, or sealed boxes.

What Are The Consequences Of Hoarding Disorder?

If the hoarding problem gets unchecked, it can negatively impact every aspect of someone’s life. When someone is a hoarder, it affects the entire family. For instance, family members can feel a lack of space due to useless stuff lying everywhere. In some cases, families suffer financial losses because a hoarder has the tendency to make compulsive purchases, or they often spend money to buy storage units for keeping their increasing stuff. 

Is There A Treatment For A Hoarding Disorder?

A comprehensive treatment plan designed to optimize brain activity coupled with psychotherapy, and medication (if needed), can help people find their way out of the clutter so they can once again positively organize their life. 

If you’re sensing possible signs of hoarding, try the following methods to keep the clutter in check. 

  • Keep a watch on what you do

Watch out if you’re storing junk mail or old newspapers in your home. To keep this in check, you can take out all the mails, magazines, or newspapers and discard whatever is of no use. It’s best to do it as soon as possible after reading this. 

  • Set realistic limitations

If you have a hoarding habit, it can’t go away overnight. So it’s best that you set realistic limitations for yourself. For instance, rather than saying, “I’ll de-clutter the entire house today,” say, “I’ll discard everything unnecessary from my room within a week.” 

  • Consider getting professional help

If you can’t figure out what to do on your own, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A counselor or therapist might create a treatment plan to address your issue. You can even join a support group for better results. 

The Bottom Line

People with hoarding problems often have trouble making decisions, organizing stuff, interacting with people, and concentrating. If you see the above signs in someone you know, talk to them and understand their situation. Hoarding disorder can be treated if diagnosed at the right time. Don’t hesitate and talk to your therapist about all your issues.