How to Recognize Signs of a Hoarder

Everyone may have the difficult decision to make of what to throw away; however when this becomes uncontrollable and there is a sense of clinging onto objects over years for no apparent reason, this may be the first sign of a hoarder. The house becomes a storehouse of worthless objects, sometimes distress arises when trying to get rid of them, and even the appearance of the house causes shame and guilt. 

This condition can be compulsive hoarding. It is a psychiatric disorder that can become problematic. Compulsive hoarding has several salient features: There is an ongoing difficulty in getting rid of objects regardless of their value. The difficulty stems from the need to keep the objects, rather than putting them in the trash, storage, or a place to belong.

If this seems to be the case, it is another red flag. According to psychiatry.org, a hoarding disorder occurs in an estimated 2 to 6 percent of the population and research shows hoarding disorder is more common in males than females.

The Diagnosis of the Disorder 

This refers to the level of insight into the condition. It is customary to differentiate between a person who suffers from the disorder, has an insight into their condition and understands that their behavior causes difficulties, and a person with low insight who does not see the storage of objects as a problem for themselves or the environment. 

This is when it may be important to broach the subject with the said person and to try and analyze why this problem is occurring. It is important to note that there is a major difference between hoarding objects and collecting objects. 

Anxiety Relating to Objects

Compulsive hoarding like most psychiatric disorders is in line with traits that are commonly seen as acceptable. Signs of a hoarder may differ but there may be a sense of anxiety that arises when you mention that they should let go of some of the junk they are accumulating. The anxiety caused by throwing objects is high and the functional impairment and distress are more significant. The more severe the hoarding, the more storage of the objects will come at the expense of living functions. 

A Sense of Shame

Compulsive hoarding is accompanied by shame and there is concealment of the phenomenon. There is no pleasure in collecting objects and it is mainly meant to prevent anxiety. The storage of objects will come at the expense of necessary living space and will usually not be organized.  They may not want you to touch their items when you tell them that perhaps it should be tossed into the garbage.

Why do People Tend to Hoard Objects? 

There are several common reasons why people hoard objects. Usually tend to accumulate when believing that the objects will be valuable or used later, when purchasing or obtaining the object involved effort, when one feels that a sentimental object connects to a memory from the past, or when there is difficulty in making decisions about the objects and they prefer to postpone the decision to cleanup. 

Some of the other red flags that may arise are:

  • Keeping items that have no real value (they may be random objects such as old newspapers, empty cartons etc).
  • Difficulties with throwing any of these objects away, even if they are old and decrepit. 
  • They may say they want to save them because they have meaning, if there is no real reason.
  • Building up so much clutter that the home is unlivable. 
  • Avoidaning and procrastinating when mentioning clearance of the home. 
  • Difficulties with planning and organizing the objects.

If you know someone who is a hoarder, it may be wise to look at a hoarding cleanup. After sorting out the things you want to dispose of, a waste disposal or Hoarding Junk hauling company can help collect those items along with your residential garbage.