Hoarding Disorder: Signs, Symptoms and What to Do Next - Home

Hoarding Disorder: Signs, Symptoms and What to Do Next

Date: January 11, 2017

Hoarding is the compulsive purchasing, acquiring, searching, and saving of items that have little or no value. This behavior can lead to emotional, physical, social, financial, and even legal side effects.

Below are some typical attributes of someone who hoards:

  • Avoids throwing away possessions (common hoarded items are newspapers, magazines, paper and plastic bags, cardboard boxes, photographs, household supplies, food, and clothing)
  • Experiences severe anxiety about discarding possessions
  • Has trouble making decisions about organizing possessions
  • Feels overwhelmed or embarrassed by possessions
  • Suspicious of other people touching their possessions 
  • Has obsessive thoughts about possessions
  • May have functional impairments such as;
     - Loss of living space inside the home (no place to eat, sleep, or cook)
     - Social isolation
     - Family or marital problems
     - Financial difficulties
     - Health hazards


People hoard for many reasons.  Some of these reasons may include:

  • Belief that their  possessions will be useful or valuable in the future
  • Possessions have sentimental value
  • Possessions are unique and irreplaceable 
  • They can’t decide where something goes, so it’s better just to keep it

Hoarding vs. Collecting

Hoarding is not the same as collecting. In general, collectors have a sense of pride about their possessions, and they experience joy in displaying and talking about their possessions and conversing. They keep their collection organized, feel satisfaction adding to it, and budget their time and money.

Hoarders generally experience embarrassment about their possessions and feel uncomfortable when others see them. Their clutter often takes over functional living space, and they feel sad or ashamed after acquiring additional items. Also, they often incur great debt, sometimes extreme.

Effective treatment is available from qualified mental health professionals, who can also help the affected family members.

For more direction of dealing with hoarding disorders, please contact the Gloria Andrade, Teaneck Social Work Specialist at: gandrade@teanecknj.gov or by phone at:  (201) 837-1600 (x1503)

You can also go to the following websites for more information on hoarding and other resources in our area: