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Hoarding Signs and How to Get Help

Signs There Might Be a Problem

A room full of books or a house full of pets does not a hoarder make. In hoarding disorder, collecting those things interferes with life.

Hoarders might become isolated because they're too embarrassed to have people over, or there simply is no room. Safety personnel like police or fire fighters may be unable to access the home. Hoarders may live in unsanitary conditions, unable to shower because there are "valuables" in the tub. They may destroy their credit because the bills are buried somewhere in 10 years of mail, or have so many animals that they can't care for them properly and they, too, get sick.

And when those animals are taken away, or a family member comes over and hauls away hundreds of pounds of junk mail, hoarders feel an intolerable void and start collecting them all over again.

Some fairly reliable signs of a hoarding problem include:

  • Collecting and being unable to get rid of things other people throw away every day
  • Living in unsanitary conditions
  • Being unable to use rooms for their intended purpose (kitchen for cooking, bathroom for washing up, bedroom for sleeping) because they are too cluttered
  • Having too many animals to care for them properly
  • Attempts to sort junk from valuables only results in moving things from one pile to another
  • Many people have suggested there might be a problem
  • Access to the home is blocked

If this describes you or someone you know, it may be time to seek help -- and while it's typically not as simple as having a garage sale or giving away a few cats, there are ways to overcome the compulsion …