Hoarding (ABCT Fact Sheet)

Hoarding disorder includes all three of the following:

  1. A person collects and keeps a lot of items, even things that appear useless or of little value to most people, and
  2. These items clutter the living spaces and keep the person from using their rooms as they were intended, and
  3. These items cause distress or problems in day-to-day activities.

What are the signs of hoarding?

  • Difficulty getting rid of items
  • A large amount of clutter in the office, at home, in the car, or in other spaces (i.e., storage units) that makes it difficult to use furniture or appliances or move around easily
  • Losing important items like money or bills in the clutter
  • Feeling overwhelmed by the volume of possessions that have ‘taken over’ the house or workspace
  • Being unable to stop taking free items, such as advertising flyers or sugar packets from restaurants
  • Buying things because they are a “bargain” or to “stock up”
  • Not inviting family or friends into the home due to shame or embarrassment
  • Refusing to let people into the home to make repairs

Many people who hoard may call themselves “thrifty.” They may also think that their behavior is due to having lived through a period of poverty or hardship. Research does not support this idea. However, experiencing a traumatic event or serious loss, such as the death of a spouse or parent, may lead to a worsening of existing hoarding behavior.

A publication from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies

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