by Cris Sgrott-Wheedleton

Hoarding is more than just collecting; it is the “persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value” – and it affects nearly one million people in the United States.

When we work with people who suffer from hoarding issues, they are often anxious about their possessions. “What if I need it in the future?” “What if it becomes valuable?” “What if I throw it out and then realize I need it?”

It can be difficult for hoarders to become and stay organized if they do not address the underlying issues that lead to hoarding in the first place. For many, hoarding is a symptom of depression or anxiety, and the collecting of things, whether it is newspapers, magazines, household supplies, food, clothing, or something else, is a coping often a coping mechanism for dealing with the underlying struggles. Hoarding is also a disorder that can present alone, or it can be a symptom of another disorder. According to the ADAA, the disorders most often associated with hoarding are obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression.

Helping Hoarders Organize and Declutter

Working with a hoarder to declutter and organize is a slow and careful process. We understand how frightening it can be to think about not having the items around that provide security, to have to work through the anxiety of deciding what to do with all of the things you have collected. If you are a hoarder who has decided to try declutter and organize, we recommend these tips:

  • Work with a professional organizer. Certified Professional Organizers are not only experts in organizing; they often specialize in working with hoarders, people with ADHD, and others. You should be comfortable with the person, feel like you can trust him or her, and feel safe throughout the process.
  • Go slowly. It can be overwhelming and cause setbacks if you try to move too quickly from hoarder to perfectly organized.
  • Don’t expect perfection. Perfection is too much pressure for anyone. Be proud of any progress you make, even if it’s only to acknowledge that you need help.
  • Focus on more than just organzing your home; try to understand why you hoard. Seek therapy or guidance so that you don’t backtrack.

Hoarding can be a debilitating disorder, and organizing your home may be the last step in a healing process for you. If you need help, we’re here.