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What is Hoarding

A hoarding disorder is where someone acquires an excessive number of items and stores them in a chaotic manner, usually resulting in unmanageable amounts of clutter.


The items can be of little or no monetary value.

Hoarding is considered a significant problem if:

  • the amount of clutter interferes with everyday living – for example, the person is unable to use their kitchen or bathroom and cannot access rooms

  • the clutter is causing significant distress or negatively affecting the quality of life of the person or their family – for example, they become upset if someone tries to clear the clutter and their relationship suffers

Hoarding disorders are challenging to treat because many people who hoard frequently do not see it as a problem, or have little awareness of how it's affecting their life or the lives of others.

Many do realise they have a problem but are reluctant to seek help because they feel extremely ashamed, humiliated or guilty about it.

It's really important to encourage a person who is hoarding to seek help, as their difficulties discarding objects can not only cause loneliness and mental health problems but also pose a health and safety risk.

If not tackled, it's a problem that will probably never go away.

Signs & Symptoms 
  • Someone who has a hoarding disorder may typically:

  • keep or collect items that may have little or no monetary value, such as junk mail and carrier bags, or items they intend to reuse or repair

  • find it hard to categorise or organise items

  • have difficulties making decisions

  • struggle to manage everyday tasks, such as cooking, cleaning and paying bills

  • become extremely attached to items, refusing to let anyone touch or borrow them

  • have poor relationships with family or friends

  • Hoarding can start as early as the teenage years and gets more noticeable with age. For many, hoarding becomes more problematic in older age, but the problem is usually well established by this time.

  • It's thought that around 1 or 2 people in every 100 have a problem with hoarding that seriously affects their life.


It's not easy to treat hoarding disorders, even when the person is prepared to seek help, but it can be overcome.

The main treatment is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). The therapist will help the person to understand what makes it difficult to throw things away and the reasons why the clutter has built up.

This will be combined with practical tasks and a plan to work on. It's important the person takes responsibility for clearing the clutter from their home. The therapist will support and encourage this.

Antidepressant medicines called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have also been shown to help some people with hoarding disorders

CBT is a type of therapy that aims to help you manage your problems by changing how you think (cognitive) and act (behaviour).

It encourages you to talk about how you think about yourself, the world and other people, and how what you do affects your thoughts and feelings.

Regular sessions of CBT over a long period of time are usually necessary and will almost always need to include some home-based sessions, working directly on the clutter.


Find out More: 
Self - Help 

​This requires motivation, commitment and patience, as it can take many months to achieve the treatment goal.

The goal is to improve the person's decision-making and organisational skills, help them overcome urges to save and, ultimately, clear the clutter, room by room. 

The therapist won't throw anything away but will help guide and encourage the person to do so. The therapist can also help the person develop decision-making strategies while identifying and challenging underlying beliefs that contribute to the hoarding problem.

The person gradually becomes better at throwing things away, learning that nothing terrible happens when they do and becomes better at organising items they insist on keeping.

At the end of treatment, the person may not have cleared all their clutter, but they will have gained a better understanding of their problem. They will have a plan to help them continue to build on their successes and avoid slipping back into their old ways.

The Clutter Image Ratings can be used to assess the condition of a hoarded home as well as the hoarder’s level of insight. Download now.

The London Fire Brigade have developed Fire Safety Tips for Hoarders Download here.  If you are concerned that your home may be at risk of fire or know someone who you think needs our help please arrange a home fire safety visit. To find out more please click here. - hoarding-disorder


Emergency Action plan:
  • Be kind, and caring 

  • Don't be judgemental 

  • Ask what you can do to help

  • Deal with any anxiety or Stress

  • Show them online self help support 


Now Think Safety 


  • Can you get out of the house safely  if there was a fire

  • Can you make a meal and drinks 

  • Are they  able to wash 

  • Will anything fall ontop off someone 

  • Think Infestation

Find out More: 
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