When Clutter Becomes Hoarding

What Now?

With Organizing shows like Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and Get Organized with The Home Edit dominating pop culture realms, the conversations about decluttering have increased immensely. Popular media topics such as these often get us thinking about the people in our own lives with a new lens. People love to share the information and tips they have gleaned from these popular shows.

Because of all this talk of organization, the natural jump is to wonder if people in our own life need the magic of decluttering. However, in some severe cases the question could come up of whether clutter is actually hoarding? Hoarding as of 2013 is defined as a mental disorder, so we are going to handle this topic with care. Here are some facts to know about the disorder.

According to Mayo Clinic Online,

“Hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs” (www.mayoclinic.org).

Hoarding is unlike a regular decluttering experience in which everyone feels a bit of discomfort letting go of sentimental items. Hoarding is more specifically an attachment to objects with seemingly no value. Many people experience small symptoms of hoarding, but it doesn’t mean they have the disorder. The disorder is much more specific and often affects a person’s ability to live in a safe or healthy home.

When tasks like recycling newspapers, throwing away garbage or small insignificant items becomes utterly impossible, it might be time to seek help. Another common tell of the disorder is clutter so prominent that it blocks doorways, stairwells and living areas. A surprising symptom of hoarding is perfectionism. The effected person might live in a nearly unusable home space but to them everything is in the perfect spot. If objects are moved or changed slightly in any way, it can cause the person mental distress. Some cases of hoarding can be mild to severe, so the disorder looks different for everyone.
The person effected by the mental illness may have a hard time recognizing that there is a problem. Intervention might be necessary is the persons home becomes hazardous to their physical health or individuals who live with them. Seeking help from a medical professional and reaching out to local governmental resources are two avenues to take when dealing with this disorder.

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