10 Things You Should Know About Hoarding!

Hoarding can be a very sensitive subject. I noticed when I am working with my disorganized clients who have way to much stuff, if a family member or friend refers to them as a hoarder, they tend to get quite upset, often yelling “I am not a hoarder!”

What sets someone who has too much stuff apart from a hoarder?

According to the DSM-V (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), 2013 – American Psychiatric Association, lists the following criteria for Hoarding Disorder:

1. Persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value.

2. This difficulty is due to a perceived need to save the items and the distress associated with discarding them.

3. The difficulty discarding possessions results in the accumulation of possessions that congest and clutter active living areas and substantially compromise their intended use.

4. The hoarding causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning (including maintaining a safe environment for self and others).

5. The hoarding is not attributable to another medical condition (e.g., brain injury, cerebrovascular disease, Prader-Willi Syndrome).

6. The hoarding is not better explained by the symptoms of another mental disorder. (1)

clutter - Second Set of Hands

Hoarders often collect items such as bags, papers, magazines etc. that have little value but to them they have significant value and feel that they will need them one day. They continue to keep these items adding more bags, newspapers etc. as well as adding other items which results in their home being full of clutter.

Often getting to the point where there is little room to move around in their home and it is not safe for them or for visitors to come over. Isolation and depression can start to take over.

The following are additional characteristics of hoarding:

Hoarders are not collectors!

Collectors take pride in their collections. Often shining them and showing them off. Hoarders are often embarrassed by the way they are living and do not want anyone to see their items.

Why do they keep all their items?

1. Sentimental reasons, “my grandmother gave me this” even if it is broken or they have numerous items from their grandmother,

2. Just in case – “I may use this one day for…”

3. Too good to throw out – “Isn’t this so cute?”


Hoarding often accompanies other mental health disorders such as OCD, depression, bipolar disorder, and social anxiety.
Where do they get all that stuff from?

Some hoarders get their items from compulsive shopping, bargain hunting, free samples, side of the road garbage, garbage bins and stealing.

If you know a hoarder or someone that has too much stuff and is feeling overwhelmed, consider being kind, sensitive and suggest that they get help. There are doctors/therapists that specialize in this type of behaviour and professional organizers that will work hands on with disorganized clients and hoarders to help them achieve their goals.

Until next time,

(1) Reference: ICD – Understanding and Helping Aging Clients with Hoarding Disorder, Course Developer and Presenter: Renae Reinardy, Psy.D


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