Explains hoarding, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.
Living with hoarding problems can be difficult, but there are lots of things you can do to help yourself cope. This page has some suggestions for you to consider:
It can be hard opening up about hoarding, but it might help to share how you're feeling. If you don't feel you can talk to people around you, you could try contacting a helpline.
See useful contacts for more suggestions.
"My turning point came after ten years of increasing amounts of stuff. In the last four years I have kept my snail's pace progress going by getting motivation from YouTube, listening to lectures on hoarding psychology [and] decluttering, and seeking help on self-help forums."
Making connections with people with similar or shared experiences can be really helpful. To find peer support, you could:
If you're seeking peer support on the internet, it's important to look after your online wellbeing.
See our pages on online mental health for more information.
You may find it helpful to keep a diary recording your moods and feelings, difficult or stressful events and times when you feel happy or relaxed, as well as keeping a note of your hoarding.
This could help you to spot patterns in what triggers your hoarding behaviours and spot early signs – so you could plan some other activities to do instead.
Some people find it also helps to write down questions to consider before acquiring or saving new things, like asking yourself if you're sure you need them and if you have space for them.
"Sometimes I'll just write on [an online] forum to vent how angry I am at myself.... Yes anger and depression are closely enmeshed in my clutter, and squalor. I can be furious at myself for being in such an awful mess, and can end up telling myself that I don't even deserve to have a decent home."
You could explore ways to relax and enjoy yourself that don't involve buying, acquiring or saving things, or to help distract you from wanting to. For example:
"Discarding is never a simple yes-no process, and most items will be pondered over through several sort-throughs, over a period of months and years."
Looking after your physical health can make a difference to how you feel emotionally. For example, it can help to:
Hoarding can sometimes make your home less safe for you, for example by increasing the risk of fire spreading or making it harder for you to leave quickly in an emergency.
You can ask your local fire service to do a safety check. Many fire services understand hoarding. They might ask you to describe your situation using the Clutter Image Rating.
The London Fire Brigade has tips on its website about how to reduce the risk of fire from hoarding.
It's common to feel anxious about getting help with hoarding or trying to change things. You might feel like you can't start because it's too hard, which can lead to safety behaviours (things that make you feel safe, but don't help in the long-term) like avoiding thinking or talking about it.
It can help to start with small steps. For example:
"Yesterday I identified two items to dispose of, of which I am proud, though I am acutely aware that I have been pondering about being rid of them for the last two years."
If you're experiencing other issues alongside hoarding, such as money worries or addiction to recreational drugs or alcohol, it could be helpful to explore the help out there for these too.
If you're worried about people entering your home without your permission, or you're facing eviction because of issues relating to hoarding, see our legal page on your housing rights for information on your rights.
Our legal pages on discrimination when buying, renting or living in property may also be helpful. If you are a tenant of the council or a housing association, your landlord must respect your privacy and your home under article 8 of the Human Rights 1998 Act.
Some people experiencing difficulties with hoarding may be entitled to a needs assessment by social services and may be entitled to social care to provide care and support.
This information was published in September 2018. We will revise it in 2021.
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