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Hoarding Disorder

What is hoarding?

Hoarding is when you have an excessive amount of things that are stored and collected chaotically. This usually results in a number of possessions that is unmanageable, which then becomes an issue. People with hoarding disorder often find it incredibly hard to part with these items. It is often hard to treat as those with the disorder don’t usually see a problem or aren't aware of their issue.

If you hoard, you may:-

  • Have strong positive feelings when you get or think about getting more things

  • Feel upset or anxious about the thought of giving away some of your possessions because of your emotional attachment to them.

  • Find it hard to pack a suitcase for going away and may find you are packing a lot more than you actually need because you find it difficult to decide what is important

  • Find it hard to organise your things

  • Feel the need to get more things

  • Feel the need to keep items ‘just in case you may need them

Treatment of hoarding disorder

If you are feeling distressed by your hoarding disorder, you can seek treatment from a GP, who will refer you to a psychiatrist or another mental health professional to talk through the hoarding. A treatment known as cognitive behavioural therapy is often used for hoarding disorder; CBT teaches you coping skills for dealing with different problems. It focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and actions. Some people may experience other mental or physical health issues, so sometimes, medication is used to treat some physical symptoms.

How to talk to someone who's hoarding


  • Use judgmental language, like “junk” or “trash”. Imagine your own response if someone came into your home and spoke in a judgmental manner, especially if you already felt ashamed.

  • Let your non-verbal expression say what you’re thinking. Individuals with compulsive hoarding are likely to notice non-verbal messages that convey judgment, like frowns or grimaces.

  • Touch the person’s belongings without permission. Those who hoard often have strong feelings and beliefs about their possessions and often find it upsetting when another person touches their things without permission


  • Imagine yourself in the hoarding client’s shoes.

  • Match the person’s language. Listen for the individual’s manner of referring to his/her possessions.

  • Use encouraging language. In communicating with people who hoard about the consequences of hoarding, use language that reduces defensiveness and increases motivation to solve the problem.

Heads2Minds offers support, so please email us at

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