From Hoarding to Healing: How to Overcome Hoarding?

Have you ever felt as though your possessions were controlling your life? Do you frequently accumulate things that you don’t actually need and keep them around till your house is overstuffed and cluttered? If so, hoarding may be a problem for you. Regardless of age, gender, or origin, hoarding is a severe problem that can harm everyone. The good news is that hoarding can be defeated and healing found. This essay will examine the underlying causes of hoarding and offer helpful advice for transitioning from hoarding to recovery. This post has a lot to offer, regardless of whether you or someone you know is battling with hoarding. So let’s get started and learn how to permanently defeat hoarding.


  • Hoarding disorder is a mental health issue in which a person has continuous trouble getting rid of objects that appear useless or of minimal use to others.
  • Primary and secondary hoarding are the two distinct subtypes of hoarding.
  • A person’s physical health, mental well-being, and social interactions can all be negatively impacted by hoarding disorder.
  • Various mental health issues are frequently connected to hoarding disorder
  • Intervention options for treating hoarding disorder includes: Self-help techniques, therapy, medication, support groups


Understanding hoarding disorder (HD)

Hoarding disorder is a mental health issue in which a person has continuous trouble getting rid of objects that appear useless or of minimal use to others. These goods amass over time, and the individual suffering from hoarding disease is unable to let them go, regardless of their true worth or utility.

Consider having a wardrobe full of old clothes that you never wear but can’t bear to part with because you think you might need them someday. Or maybe you have stacks of old newspapers and magazines built up in your living room that you can’t bear the thought of throwing away because you’re afraid of missing out on essential information.

Being just messy or unorganized is not the same as having a hoarding issue. Instead, it’s a dangerous disorder that may have major repercussions. Social isolation, health issues, and in severe situations, fire concerns can all result from hoarding.

Symptoms of hoarding disorder

A chronic difficulty in getting rid of or parting with goods, regardless of their true value, is a sign of hoarding disorder. The following are some typical signs of hoarding disorder:

  • Persistent trouble getting rid of possessions: Hoarders frequently struggle to get rid of things, even those that are no longer needed or are useless.
  • Severe disarray: People with hoarding problem frequently end up with a lot of disarray in their homes. Moving about or using particular parts of the home may become challenging as a result.
  • Attachment: Hoarding disorder sufferers may have a deep emotional tie to their goods, which can make it much harder for them to get rid of them.
  • Restricted living space: Hoarding disorder sufferers may have a small living area due to the accumulation of possessions, making it challenging to perform everyday tasks.
  • Decision-making issues: Individuals with hoarding disorders may have trouble making decisions involving getting rid of possessions, which can cause worry and distress.
  • Social isolation: Hoarding disorders can cause social isolation because sufferers may be embarrassed or ashamed of their living arrangements and hesitate to invite others inside their residence.

Read Bog: How to build social connections (Scientific methods for emotional recovery)

Difference between hoarding and hoarding disorder

Hoarding is a common activity that many people engage in.A mental health illness is often referred to as hoarding disorder and is proven to have an impact on a person’s capacity to carry out daily activities.
A crammed wardrobe or a dirty room are two examples of hoarding.The unwillingness to discard objects that have no value or are dangerous, such as trash heaps or expired food, is one example of a hoarding disorder.
Hoarding is frequently caused by a lack of organization or motivation to clean.It is a complicated condition that can be brought on by a number of things, such as genetics, brain chemistry, and life events.
Hoarding may cause some distress, but it usually has little impact on a person’s life.In severe circumstances, hoarding disorder can result in social isolation, health issues, and even mental health concerns.
Cleaning, sorting, and prioritizing possessions can help with hoarding.A thorough treatment regimen for hoarding disorder is necessary, and it may include counselling, medication, therapies, and most importantly self-help strategies.
Differentiation between hoarding and hoarding disorder

It’s important to note that while hoarding is a common behavior, hoarding disorder is a serious mental health condition that requires professional intervention to overcome.

Types of hoarding: primary and secondary

Primary and secondary hoarding are the two distinct subtypes of hoarding.

  • Primary hoarding is the accumulation of personal or sentimental stuff, such as relics like old photographs, letters, or keepsakes. For instance, someone might save all of the greeting cards they’ve ever received because they feel bad discarding them, or they might maintain their collection of childhood dolls because they bring back pleasant memories.
  • Secondary hoarding is the accumulation of things that are of little or no value, including used newspapers, plastic bags, or damaged household goods. Secondary hoarding can result from a number of things, such as the dread of tossing away items that one might use later on or the conviction that everything has intrinsic value. Someone might, for instance, store a stack of outdated newspapers because they think they may need to refer to them in the future or keep broken devices because they feel they may be able to repair them.

Both primary and secondary hoarding can have serious negative effects, such as social isolation, hazards to one’s physical health, and in severe situations, financial difficulties. If you or someone you love is battling with hoarding, it’s crucial to get assistance since it may be managed with therapy, medication, and other therapies.

What are the 5 stages of hoarding?

Hoarding disorder is a complicated condition that can develop over time via several stages. The five stages of hoarding disorder are listed below, along with illustrations of each stage:

  • Disarray and clutter: The initial phase of hoarding disorder is characterized by an accumulation of possessions and a general lack of structure. For instance, it could be challenging for someone to walk around or find what they need if their home is filled with piles of clothes or heaps of paperwork.
  • Having trouble getting rid of things: As the hoarding disease worsens, people may grow more connected to their possessions and struggle to get rid of them. As a result, things with little or no value, such stale newspapers, broken appliances, and empty food containers, may start to accumulate.
  • Accumulation: At this point, hoarding disease sufferers may start obsessively acquiring new goods, frequently without thought to their value or utility. They might engage in excessive shopping, gather gifts, or in severe circumstances, even theft.
  • Clutter that is out of control: When the hoarding problem worsens, a person’s living space may become very cluttered and disorganized, making it difficult or impossible to use specific rooms of the house. In extreme circumstances, the mess could endanger your safety or pose a fire risk.
  • Social isolation and functional disability: At the last stage of the condition, there is a large amount of social isolation as well as functional disability. Due to the humiliation and embarrassment connected with their living circumstances, people may refrain from allowing guests into their home or even from leaving the house themselves. Due to their hoarding practices, which make it difficult for them to do everyday activities and maintain relationships, they may also develop functional impairment.

Impact of hoarding on an individual’s life

A person’s physical health, mental well-being, and social interactions can all be negatively impacted by hoarding disorder. The following are a few instances of the numerous effects that hoarding disorder can have on a person’s life:

  • Physical health: While the accumulation of objects can lead to unsafe and unclean living conditions, hoarding disorders can cause health issues. Dust, mold, and germs that can lead to respiratory disorders, allergies, and other health issues can be found in piles of junk. Moreover, hoarding increases the chance of fires and other calamities, as well as slips, trips, and other accidents.
  • Emotional health: Hoarding disorder patients may struggle with severe anxiety, sadness, and shame as a result of their compulsive habits. They could feel overburdened by their stuff and find it difficult to make decisions about what to keep and what to discard. Their general mental health and well-being may be impacted by these feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

Read E-Book: The power of emotional healing- A guide to emotional recovery

  • Social connections: Hoarding disorders can have an effect on a person’s connections with friends and family. Because to the effects of their hoarding practices on their daily lives, they could find it difficult to sustain relationships.

Read Blog: 14 Tips to Enhance Social Connections

  • Financial issues: Hoarding disorder can occasionally result in financial issues. Hoarding disorder patients could overspend on things they don’t need or use, or they might have to pay for extra storage space to fit all of their belongings. Debt and financial stress may result from this.

If you or someone you love is suffering from hoarding problem, it’s critical to get assistance. Treatment can assist people in controlling their symptoms and enhancing their general quality of life.

1. What is the main cause of engaging in hoarding behavior?

Hoarding problem may have a hereditary component because it tends to run in families, according to studies.

  • Brain activity: According to certain studies, the hoarding problem may be linked to aberrant brain activity in particular regions.
  • Trauma or loss: A traumatic incident or loss, such as the death of a loved one or a significant change in one’s life, may cause hoarding behavior.
  • Anxiety: High levels of anxiety and difficulties making decisions about what to keep and what to throw away are common in people with hoarding disorder.

Read E-Book: All that you need to know about anxiety

  • Emotional connection: Hoarders may have a strong emotional bond with their goods, which can make it difficult for them to let go of them.
  • Perfectionism: Some hoarders may have a strong need for order and control, which can show up as an accumulation of possessions.
  • Environmental factors: Conditions including poverty, a lack of social support, or exposure to traumatic experiences can have an impact on hoarding behavior. Please refer to the image (Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory) to get an comprehensive idea of environmental factors impacting hoarding.

2. Which mental health illnesses are linked to/with hoarding disorder and behavior?

The following mental health issues are frequently connected to hoarding disorder:

  • Hoarding disorder is frequently regarded as a subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), as both conditions involve intrusive and repetitive thoughts and behaviors. A person with OCD, for instance, could continuously check to see if a door is locked, but a person with hoarding disorder might feel obliged to retain every newspaper they’ve ever read.
  • Individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have trouble organizing themselves and controlling their impulses, which can lead to hoarding tendencies. For instance, someone with ADHD could find it challenging to sort through their possessions and decide what to keep and what to throw away.
  • Hoarding problem is frequently linked to depression and anxiety because the clutter and solitude it can produce might result in depressive and anxious sensations. For instance, a hoarder may feel overpowered by the clutter in their home, which can exacerbate anxiety and feelings of helplessness.

Read E-book: How to Fight Depression?

  • Trauma, such as abuse or neglect, can play a role in the emergence of hoarding disorder. For instance, a person who experienced trauma as a youngster can find it difficult to let go of belongings as a method to feel secure and in charge.

Read E-Book: Saying Goodbye to Trauma

  • Hoarding behaviour may be associated with certain personality disorders, including avoidant personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). A person with OCPD, for instance, would experience the need for control and perfectionism, which might show up as the accumulation of possessions.

It’s critical to remember that hoarding disorder is a complicated problem with a variety of probable causes and may coexist with a number of other mental health issues. Getting care from mental health specialists can help you manage your symptoms and enhance your quality of life.

3. What are the treatment, therapy, and intervention options available for treating hoarding disorder?

The following short bullet points with illustrations and pictures list some potential treatments for hoarding disorder:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of therapy that aids in recognizing and challenging unfavorable thought and behavior patterns. CBT for hoarding problem may entail educating patients on how to spot mistaken attitudes about their possessions and how to practice letting go of things that are no longer necessary or important.

Read Blog: What is CBT- An Introduction to a Revolutionary Therapy with A Case Example

  • Exposure therapy: Exposure therapy includes gradually exposing patients to circumstances or things that make them anxious or afraid in order to desensitize them to the stimuli. Exposure therapy for hoarding disorder may involve practicing getting rid of things in a safe and encouraging setting.
  • Medication: In addition to counselling, some drugs, such as antidepressants or anxiety relievers, may be used to treat hoarding condition.
  • Self-help techniques: Self-help methods are procedures that people can employ independently to enhance their mental health and general wellbeing. Self-help methods can be an excellent intervention to deal with hoarding by assisting those affected to work on themselves.
  • Group therapy: For those with hoarding disorder, support groups like those provided by the International OCD Foundation help foster a sense of community and understanding.

It’s important to remember that hoarding disorder is a complicated problem with no one, effective treatment. Individuals can identify the best treatment alternatives for their particular requirements by consulting with mental health professionals.

3 self-help techniques for breaking free from hoarding disorder. 

Three self-help methods for overcoming hoarding disorder are listed below, along with instructions on how to use them:

1. Mindfulness and relaxation practices

Developing mindfulness is a helpful strategy for overcoming hoarding problem. You can become more aware of your hoarding tendencies and make deliberate decisions about how to deal with them by learning to examine your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors without passing judgement on them through the practice of mindfulness.

Try out the following actions to begin practicing mindfulness:

  • Locate a peaceful, comfortable area where you won’t be bothered.
  • Take slow, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth as you pay attention to your breathing.
  • Anytime you catch your thoughts straying, just observe them objectively while gently bringing your focus back to your breathing.
  • Spend 10 to 20 minutes a day practising.

Benefits: Using mindfulness techniques can help you better recognize your hoarding tendencies, lower your stress and anxiety levels, and enhance your general sense of wellbeing.

2. Creating Reasonable Goals

A crucial step in overcoming hoarding problem is setting realistic goals. Setting doable organizing and decluttering goals will help you generate momentum and a sense of control over your environment.

Try the following actions to set objectives that are realistic:

  • Start small by concentrating on only one room at a time.
  • For such space, choose a specific, doable goal, like organising one drawer or shelf.
  • Organize stuff into piles of keep, donate, and discard to help you break the objective down into manageable pieces.
  • Whenever you complete a step, rejoice in your progress.

Benefits: Making realistic objectives can give you a sense of momentum and control over your environment, which can boost your confidence and lessen feelings of overwhelm.

3. Fighting Negative Thoughts

Hoarding behavior can be fueled by negative thoughts and attitudes. You can begin to modify your thinking and overcome hoarding disorder by learning to fight these unfavorable notions and replacing them with good, realistic ones.

Try the next steps to combat negative thoughts:

  • Determine the negative beliefs that you have, such as “I might need this someday” or “This object has sentimental value,” that support your hoarding habit.
  • By challenging these ideas with inquiries like “How likely am I to actually need this?” Alternatively, “Can I enjoy the memories without preserving the object?”
  • Replacing negative thoughts with realistically optimistic ones, such as “I have other resources if I need something in the future” or “I can still commemorate the memories without keeping the physical item,” will help.

Benefits: Fighting against your negative ideas can help you shift your perspective and form more optimistic, realistic attitudes about your belongings. This can help you stop hoarding and boost your self-esteem.

Read Blog: Breaking Free from the Lies We Tell Ourselves: Unhelpful Beliefs


Although overcoming hoarding disorder is not simple, it is definitely possible. It calls for perseverance, resolve, and a readiness to adapt. It’s important to realize that hoarding disease is a mental issue as well as a physical one, and that getting professional assistance is a vital first step on the road to recovery. Each person must decide which of the numerous available successful treatment options—including therapy, medicine, and self-help methods—works best for them. Anyone can escape the hoarding pattern and recover their life with the correct resources, assistance, and attitude. Keep in mind that healing is attainable and that the path there is worthwhile at every stage.

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