In the last blog we gave you some signs of a hoarder, but what exactly defines them?

According to The Mayo Clinic, hoarding is a disorder characterized by a “persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them.”

The clinic’s website goes on to explain that hoarding is different from collecting. “People who have collections, such as stamps or model cars, deliberately search out specific items, categorize them and carefully display their collections. Although collections can be large, they aren’t usually cluttered and they don’t cause the distress and impairments that are part of hoarding disorder.”

According to the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF), there are three criteria that need to be met in order to classify a hoarder:

1. A person collects and keeps a lot of items, even things that appear useless or of little value to most people, and

2. These items clutter the living spaces and keep the person from using their rooms as they were intended, and

3. These items cause distress or problems in day-to-day activities.

The IOCDF informs that hoarding can develop as a teen and often, another family member may also be a hoarder. It can “develop along with other mental illnesses, such as dementia and schizophrenia.”

People with hoarding disorder often don’t see it as a problem, making treatment challenging. But intensive treatment can help people with hoarding disorder understand their compulsions and live safer, more enjoyable lives. Read to on to see why hoarding can be dangerous physically, as well as mentally.