You, or someone you know, has probably collected something at one point: baseball cards, shot glasses, shoes, model trains, comic books. Collecting is a normal behavior, but what happens when it becomes obsessive? When it’s not just one thing, but many? When it adversely affects the life of the collector and those in close contact?

Hoarding is a compulsive behavior disorder and it can be unhealthy and dangerous.

While most of us think that we’d recognize a hoarder when we saw one, hoarders themselves are often in denial about their condition. The disorder often goes untreated, since the hoarder refuses to believe they need treatment.

Here are 8 signs of a hoarder, courtesy of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT):

  1. Difficulty getting rid of items.
  2. A large amount of clutter in the office, at home, in the car, or in other spaces (i.e., storage units) that makes it difficult to use furniture or appliances or move around easily.
  3. Losing important items like money or bills in the clutter.
  4. Feeling overwhelmed by the volume of possessions that have ‘taken over’ the house or workspace.
  5. Being unable to stop taking free items, such as advertising flyers or sugar packets from restaurants.
  6. Buying things because they are a “bargain” or to “stock up”.
  7. Not inviting family or friends into the home due to shame or embarrassment.
  8. Refusing to let people into the home to make repairs.