Explains what hoarding is, possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping someone who is hoarding, as well as helping yourself.
Some of us who hoard do not know we are hoarding or cannot see how it impacts our lives.
It can feel very stressful if other people tell you that you're hoarding. This might come from friends, family, your partner, or official bodies like the council.
While hoarding, you might:
Hoarding normally starts in the place you live But you might expand or use other spaces such as a car, garage or storage unit. You may also keep things at other people's homes, if they allow you to.
“Realising that there was a problem was my first step, and doing something about it was the next. By talking about my journey to decluttering I hope to raise awareness for others that there is help and hope out there.”
Everyone will have a different experience of hoarding. It's possible to hoard anything, physical or digital. These are some examples of things that people commonly hoard:
You might save things other people see as worthless or of limited value. You might have important and unimportant things mixed up together – such as important bills mixed with old newspapers. This might cause you distress, or it might be how you prefer to arrange your belongings.
“I kept lots of clean packaging as school kept asking for stuff for junk modelling, and I liked to do crafts with my daughter. Slowly things built up and my dining table was completely covered, so we could not actually do the craft stuff.”
If you're unsure about whether you have a hoarding problem, you could do the following:
You might feel someone close to you has a hoarding problem they aren't recognising. For more information, see our page on helping someone who hoards.
“My mum sleeps on a small patch of her sofa. I don't know the last time she slept in a bed, but it has been several years.”
If you experience certain symptoms, doctors or healthcare professionals may give you a diagnosis of hoarding disorder. They might also call it compulsive hoarding.
Your doctor might give you a diagnosis of hoarding disorder if you:
It's important to remember that hoarding disorder can be different for everyone. You might recognise some of these signs and symptoms, but you might have other experiences or difficulties.
This information was published in February 2022. We will revise it in 2025.
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