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How to recognize a hoarder

How To - November 4, 2019

Many people hang on to souvenirs and memorabilia from the past. However, it never reaches a point where it’s detrimental to their health. Sadly, this can’t be said about everyone. The obsession of collecting everything, also known as hoarding, has become a problem for a lot of people. To recognize a hoarder is to know how the problem starts. The sooner you see the problem, the sooner you can fight it. Therefore, if you realize you’re dealing with a hoarder, work on finding professional help for them. As for the cluttered home, you can always seek out professional junk removal. Hoarding often goes hand in hand with other mental and health problems. As such, it needs to be addressed right away.  Recently, the awareness of hoarding has been increasing thanks to various TV shows which helps a great deal in understanding this problem.

What exactly is hoarding?

To recognize a hoarder, you first need to understand the mentality. The best way to describe hoarding -difficulcy to get rid of material possessions, regardless if they have value or not. Hoarding falls under the category of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Roughly one in four people with OCD are hoarders. It mainly consists of two parts. Firstly, there is mass collecting of items with little to no value. Hoarders will pile up things like newspapers, milk cartons, plastic bags, cereal boxes, clothes, and notes. There is also animal hoarding, in which case a person will house dozens to hundreds of different animals. One of the first steps in combating hoarding is not letting junk pile up in the living space. As their “collection” increases, movement through the house becomes more difficult. Even worse, health and living conditions go down as well.

piled up cardboard boxes which help recognize a hoarder
Hoarding derives from the inability to let go of items

Secondly, hoarding cannot be abruptly stopped since hoarders can’t and won’t give up on their items that easily. Even if you hire a cleaning service like dumpster rental MA and clean up the clutter, they will just start collecting again. This will not stop until the junk pile is as big as it once was, and you’re back to square one. Furthermore, it is important to know the difference between a hoarder, and a collector. Collectors have a sense of pride when it comes to their possessions, and they talk about them with pride and joy. Their collections are well organized and maintained, and they feel satisfied when adding to them. Hoarders, on the other hand, feel embarrassed when it comes to the clutter in their homes. They are uncomfortable when someone sees their items, and usually, feel guilty and sad after further adding to the number of things.

Recognize a hoarder through symptoms and behavior

Hoarders most often try to justify their mass collections. They believe that their items will have great value or be useful in the future. Some may see certain items as reminders which will jog their memory. As such, they feel that they won’t be able to remember an important event or person without having said item close by. Ultimately, if they can’t decide on where the item should go, they just opt out to keep it.

dim room full of hats and umbrellas
Hoarding often reaches a point at which moving through the house is impossible

Understanding the reasons behind hoarding is the first step in helping a loved one with this problem. You can recognize a hoarder if they display the following symptoms. Keep in mind that nobody will show every single trait, but a few of the symptoms are enough to cause concern:

  • Not being able to throw anything away
  • Severe anxiety attacks when attempting to get rid of items
  • Inability to organize possessions
  • Feeling of distress, or being overwhelmed by their own items
  • Being suspicious of other people touching their things
  • Fear of losing or running out of an item
  • Checking the trash for accidentally thrown out items
  • Social isolation, financial problems, health issues

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