Here are some specific signs of hoarding:
1. The inability to get rid of possessions
“Hoarders will go shopping compulsively and purchase things they don’t need with the belief that they’ll use them,” Dr. Neziroglu says. “They’ll bring them home and put them away, and when the time comes to discard them, they can’t. This could be anything from newspapers to clothes to plastic bags.”
2. Emotional attachment to unnecessary items
“They might be attached for sentimental or emotional reasons,” Dr. Neziroglu says. “Sometimes items trigger happy memories and people want to keep them in order to preserve those memories,” Dr. Neziroglu says. Pollack goes on to emphasize equating the importance of possessions to that of people: “If your ‘stuff’ becomes more important than your relationships, that can signify a huge problem,” she says.
3. Anxiety over throwing things away
Suspicion or anxiety over the idea that someone might be touching possessions and/or throwing them away is common among hoarders.
4. Functional space is no longer usable for its respective purpose
“If you can’t see most of the floor in a room and every room becomes storage, that’s also an issue,” Pollack says. Dr. Neziroglu adds that it’s not always that drastic. “We see the most dramatic cases on television, but it could just be one room of your house, or the garage, or your car,” she says.
5. Embarrassment over possessions
Hoarders rarely have company because they might be embarrassed by the state of disarray. “Hoarders are aware that their behavior is abnormal and there are often feelings of shame attached to hoarding,” Dr. Neziroglu says.