10 Signs You Have a Hoarding Disorder

Hoarding Disorder is now recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a mental disorder. The DSM-V, which will be released in spring 2013, will contain the addition of Hoarding Disorder. This article is not meant to stand in for psychiatric or psychological advice. Rather, the goal of this article is to help you to know if you should seek medical attention for a possible hoarding disorder.

1. The ďstuffĒ in your house is more than clutter. According to psychologist Gail Steketee of Boston University, ďA lot of people have a catchall drawer or closet or even an entire room for extra stuff. Itís when you let it take over two, three, or more rooms that you run into problems.Ē

2. You are unable to throw away possessions. You experience severe anxiety when faced with throwing away possessions, even if friends and family consider them to be garbage.

3. Your possessions have taken over your living space. Maybe you have only a path through your living area available for walking through. Maybe your couch, table, or bed are covered in stuff, and there is just nowhere to put all of it. Perhaps you no longer can reach your bed, so youíre stuck sleeping on the couch.

4. You canít use your appliances or plumbing fixtures anymore. The refrigerator, perhaps, is full of mold. The sink is full of dishes that you just cannot manage. The cat has made the bathroom sink its new litter box. Daily functions, like cooking and bathing, are almost impossible in your house, so youíre relying on takeout and microwave meals.

5. You feel embarrassed by your possessions. You feel uncomfortable when other people see your possessions. You dread having friends or family enter your house. Unlike collectors, who are proud of their collections, you are ashamed of yours.

6. Youíre suspicious of other people touching your possessions. After visits from family or friends, you check the trash for discarded possessions of yours. Even if you find your possessions to be unmanageable, you feel anxious when others offer to help you to clean up. Sometimes you even check the trash when youíve taken it out, just in case you threw something out that you consider to be a possession.

7. You canít pass up a bargain. It hurts you to pass up a good bargain, so your house (and maybe your garage, and yard) is full of items that youíve purchased. Even if you donít really have enough money to shop, you just canít stop yourself from buying something if it is a bargain.

8. You are sure that there is a treasure buried under the piles of stuff in your house. People keep telling you to just take a garbage bag and get rid of all your stuff. They donít understand that you feel like you canít, because you think that buried in the piles are objects that have either sentimental or monetary value.

9. You move stuff from pile to pile, but you donít throw it away. In order to find your possessions, you have to sort through piles of stuff. Instead of throwing away things that have no monetary value, like old newspapers, you just move them from pile to pile. According to the Mayo Clinic, this is a symptom of a hoarding disorder.

10. Your house smells bad and is dirty, but you cannot clean it up. Youíve gotten used to things like animal feces on the floor, and you canít manage to clean up the mess. There is a bad smell in the house, but you canít find its source due to the piles of stuff that have accumulated. Surfaces in your house are covered in dust, but there is so much stuff around that you canít reach the surfaces to clean them. Although squalor is not necessarily a symptom of hoarding, it can be a red flag.

If you, or someone you love, is hoarding, find a support group or therapist through the International OCD Foundation. Or find a compassionate cleanout company, like the San Francisco cleaning company Steri-Clean.

Photo by puuikibeach/Flickr.

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Alice Michele
Alicia m3 years ago

I had a clutter problem in my teens and early to mid twenties but it only confined to one room. Number 9 hits close to home because it describes my mom to a T! She says she will clean up and I observe the cleaning and "removing" things only to see it still there, not in the garbage but piled up elsewhere. It annoyed me but I never said anything about it. I believe my parents, especially my mom has a semi hoarding problem and I've talked to them about getting rid at least 90 percent of stuff out the house. I'm tired of seeing it and they never had that issue when me and my siblings were kids. Very soon I'm going to do something about it because if I have to clean/throw away crap by myself, I will.

MmAway M4 years ago

Ok...was worried! Not now, no issue, just give my my dog and out with everything else! Had to pull this up in the search bar! thx

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson6 years ago

so glad none of these apply to me. I am all about clutter management. At the end of each transition season (fall, spring) I go through the clothes from the previous season. If I haven't worn it in one year, out it goes. The only things I would say I "hoard" are yarn and books, but then i use these on a regular basis

Latoya Brookins
Latoya Brookins6 years ago

I keep buying cheap things because they're cheap, regardless of if I need it or know what I am going to do with it.

Sheila Stevens
Sheila S6 years ago

Thank goodness - after reading these descriptions, I'm not as bad as I thought!

Latoya Brookins
Latoya Brookins6 years ago

The place I live is so tiny that it makes me almost look like a hoarder since I have so much crammed into it. But it's more that I need a bigger place and more places to put things (bookshelves, hamper, cabinets, etc).

Nancy Black
Nancy Black6 years ago

I think a good many of us hoard more as we age. It takes me forever to read the paper so I keep them for a couple of days. I hate to throw magazines away because they have beautiful pictures or articles or recipes. Generally I give my cooking magazines away to home economics departments in schools.

Anna Jarczynska
Past Member 6 years ago

Oh dear!!!

Jen Riley
Jen Riley6 years ago

I knew something was wrong I just didnt know how bad.
My sister is a hoarder and so am I.
Thank you so much for this article , I needed to read this and now I will take steps to get my life back. So much truth here, I need to believe I have the s trength to overcome this. Ill pas this on to my sister in hopes she can relate and help herself and my nephew

Connie T.
Past Member 6 years ago

Must have a clean out...........