Hoarding Symptoms: Signs of Hoarders
Symptoms of hoarding aren't difficult to recognize. The living spaces of hoarders become unusable as they fill up with excessive amounts of junk laid on virtually every available surface. Hoarders use sinks, beds, hallways, stairs, desks, countertops, ovens, cabinets, and stoves to store items that most people would view as worthless. (Get definition of hoarding)
Although hoarding signs and symptoms are astonishingly clear, you may ask yourself, "Why do people hoard? What is the psychology of hoarding?" Individuals with hoarding disorder save these personal items because they may have an emotional attachment to them or fear they may need it sometime in the future. Still other hoarders save items because they don't want to waste anything or the massive heaps of junk make them feel safe.
Although people suffer from the disorder in varying degrees, many exhibit common hoarding symptoms early on. Experts estimate that anywhere from 2 to 5 percent of the U.S. population suffers from hoarding disorder with very few of those actually seeking help for the condition. Research suggests that more men than women suffer from hoarding disorder.
Common hoarding symptoms include:
- Inability or very strong reluctance to throw anything away
- Moving items of no use or value from one place to another, yet never tossing them out
- Keeping stacks and stacks of paper that has no use or value (keeping old bills, newspapers, event flyers, sales flyers, etc.)
- Difficulty in making simple decisions
- Significant procrastination
- No organization skills or ability to categorize items for storage
- Excessive emotional attachment to random items
- Shame about their massive accumulation of stuff
- Limited or no social activity with others
- Impulsive, excessive purchasing of unnecessary items
- Unsafe and unsanitary living conditions due to accumulation of junk
Hoarders can save anything, but some common things include:
- Animals – according to Harvard Medical School, despite the fact that media and television shows have brought animal hoarding to public attention, it's actually very rare
Learning about the signs and symptoms of hoarding and how to find help, such as hoarding support groups and therapy, represent important ways you can help people with this debilitating mental illness get the treatment they need.
Last Updated: 03 February 2017
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD