A hoarder can be defined as a person who likes collecting objects – both useful and irrelevant to them.

Many hoarders are struggling with their inner selves on their inability to discard or give away the objects. The homes of severe hoarders can be seen bursting with mountains of things, mostly duplicates of items they already have.

This ongoing process of collecting more and more items can lead to unsafe and unhygienic living conditions.

Hoarding weakens family relationships

You will often find weakening relationships between hoarders and family members finding it difficult living surrounded by piles of unwanted items.

Hoarding is a mental disorder

The condition specifically related to hoarding is called Hoarding Disorder, or HD in short. Hoarding Disorder normally affects adults although children and teenagers may also display such tendencies.

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists HD as a mental disorder. HD can be present on its own or with other mental disorders as well.

Possible causes leading to HD

There are several possible causes for HD.

*Monetary Value – A hoarder may begin by believing the item collected is of value or use. Then the hoarder collects a second similar item just in case the first one goes missing or gets spoilt. If the first item is of some value, collecting a second item adds to more value. You’re getting the picture!

**Sentimental Value – A hoarder may have sentimental or emotional attachments to a particular item. For instance, a baby outfit reminds the hoarder of a precious memory of the baby who was once wearing it. So the hoarder cannot discard the item. The hoarder may then be holding on to another baby item that has another memory, and so on.

Over time, the hoarder will find himself or herself uncontrollably accumulating items of the same nature, due to the seemingly monetary or sentimental value attached to the particular item.

Certain people become more vulnerable to hoarding, such as those who:

  • live alone.
  • grew up in a messy home.
  • had a deprived childhood.

Hoarders often give priority to the hoarded items over their own personal needs. For example, a hoarder may stop cooking or using her kitchen, because it is filled to the brim with hoarded items.

Another hoarding trait to look out for is when a hoarder chooses to keep a broken appliance rather than throwing the item out.

People suffering from HD may also be having other mental health conditions such as:

  • ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
  • anxiety
  • dementia
  • depression
  • OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) or OCPD (obsessive compulsive personality disorder)
  • schizophrenia

Possible connection to Executive Functioning Ability

HD sufferers may also display other symptoms associated with “executive functioning ability” that may include difficulties in:

  • categorizing things
  • making decisions
  • paying attention

It is interesting to note that childhood ADHD is often linked to executive functioning disabilities in adults.


Luckily overcoming HD is possible. First of all, a person must acknowledge the disorder and have the desire to change his or her behaviour. That itself is winning nearly half the battle.

A second important pre-requisite is self-motivation, which is rather difficult for people having weak willpower. Here is where family and close friends play an important role by giving constructive support, not accusing the HD person.

Attending a support group or going for counselling can help a person with HD. Discovering there are others like him or her, makes it easier to discuss symptoms and may encourage hoarders to get treated.

In conclusion: Hoarding is a mental disorder. It can be diagnosed by a medical professional (psychiatrist) and successfully treated over time. Acknowledging the problem is the first step for the person with HD. The next step is reaching out for help from the doctor, family members, and counsellors or participating in support groups.

Living with hoarders can wear down the best of relationships, as living conditions can be unsafe and unsanitary with piles of items lying everywhere in the house.

We hope today’s article has provided some insight into the world of a person suffering from Hoarding Disorder. Hoarders need help, so offering your support would be one way of helping them reach out.

Note: The contents of this article should not be taken as medical advice.


By Aaron
16th October 2020 22:30

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