Hoarding Disorder FAQ

What is Hoarding Disorder?

Why do people hoard?

What do people hoard?

I’m just a packrat. Aren’t hoarders the people you see on TV?

What’s the difference between collecting and hoarding?

I have a family member who hoards and has created an unsafe environment. Can’t we just go in and clean it out?

Where can I get more information regarding Hoarding Disorder?

Q: What is Hoarding Disorder?

Hoarding Disorder is characterized by:

  • Excessive saving of items that others may view as worthless
  • Severe anxiety when attempting to part with possessions
  • Excessive clutter that disrupts the ability to use living or work spaces as intended
  • Difficulty categorizing or organizing possessions
  • Suspicion of other people touching items
  • Fear of running out of an item or needing it in the future
  • Fear of losing information, leading to excessive papers
  • Social isolation, relationship discord, financial difficulties, and health hazards

Q: Why do people hoard?

People may hoard due to the believe that an item is valuable or will be useful. Often times people who hoard attach a sentimental value to an item, believe that it is unique and irreplaceable, found a great bargain, are reminded of a memory, or they just can’t decide where an item belongs, so they place it in a pile. The piles start to spread and take over the space.

Hoarding may present itself alone or as symptoms of other disorders such as obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression.

In addition, people with hoarding disorder may also have associated problems such as indecisiveness, perfectionism, procrastination, disorganization, and distractibility which can contribute greatly to their functional impairment and adds to the severity of their disorder.

Q: What do people hoard?

Most often, people hoard recyclable items, newspapers, magazines, mail, paper, books, trinkets they perceive as art, free promotional items, bags, clothing, shoes, food, garbage, or anything that the person thinks is useful.

Q. I’m just a packrat. Aren’t hoarders the people you see on TV?

Although the television shows have increased the awareness of Hoarding Disorder, it isn’t without it’s faults. The people you see on those shows would be a level IV or V on the Clutter-Hoarding Scale (I being lowest, V being highest).

There are many people who are suffering from Hoarding Disorder that we don’t hear about and often times they call themselves packrats, collectors, etc. If you have excess clutter that you resist departing with and it is affecting the way you use your spaces and causing severe stress to yourself, loved ones, neighbors or landlord, then you may have Hoarding Disorder.

To be properly diagnosed and receive the help you need, please contact a therapist that helps people with hoarding disorder or offers Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in your area. Organized by Sharon specializes in hoarding disorder and can help by working with you to professionally declutter your home and simplify your life.

Contact Sharon today for your free initial phone consultation! Call (518) 791-5560.

Q. What’s the difference between collecting and hoarding?


  • Are proud of their collection
  • Keep their collection well organized and maintained
  • Display their collections and willingly show them off to others
  • Enjoy sharing their knowledge of their collection with others
  • Budget their time and money around their collection

People who Hoard:

  • Are embarrassed by their possessions
  • Place their possessions randomly without functional organization
  • Create cluttered living spaces making them unusable or unsafe
  • Are often in debt
  • Feel anxious when others are in their space
  • Often live a “double” life, going to extreme measures to hide their hoarding from others
  • Sometimes live in isolation

Q. I have a family member who hoards and has created an unsafe environment. Can’t we just go in and clean it out?

I would highly advise you not to. This could cause more damage than you might imagine.Their hoarding disorder could become more severe, and it could damage your relationship.

I understand that this situation can be very frustrating and concerning, but it also must be handled carefully in order to do the least amount of harm to the person.

The first step would be to discuss your concerns with your family member. If they are resistant, then I suggest you reach out to their physician, therapist or someone they trust and see if they could make your family member understand. Sometimes when the concern comes from someone outside of the family, it is taken better.

Create a team approach. A partnership between a therapist and a professional organizing service like Organized by Sharon works best by dealing with both the psychological effects of hoarding as well as the elimination of the physical clutter and creation of a safe, livable environment.
Q. Where can I get more information regarding Hoarding Disorder?

Contact Sharon today for a list of helpful links and resources, a referral to a professional organizer in your area if you are not in our service area, therapist referrals, and help with the physical aspects of hoarding disorder.

Call (518) 791-5560 for your free initial phone consultation.

Organized By Sharon