How To Stop Hoarding And Regain Your Quality Of Life

Reviewed by Heather Cashell, LCSW

Published 12/28/2020

Most people don’t think about it often enough, but a hoarding disorder causes a wide amount of strain on an individual’s life -- including their family members, friends, roommates, and loved ones. When not dealt with properly, the disorder only worsens.

Although early detection is the best thing for a hoarding disorder, detecting a hoarding disorder in an individual isn’t the easiest. Hoarders do their best to hide their disorder and often don’t even know their behavior is wrong or looked down upon.

When dealing with a hoarding disorder, either in yourself or in a loved one, it’s essential to understand there is help available and people out there ready to help you overcome hoarding. The sooner you realize that the sooner you can start learning how to overcome hoarding.

Lets be honest, though.

Hoarding disorders don’t receive the same amount of attention as depression, ADHD, anxiety, or ADHD. Most people are unaware it’s even listed as a disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5).

With that being said, it’s no wonder so many people are stuck wondering how to stop hoarding tendencies and how to stop a hoarder from worsening their quality of life.

So, how do you stop hoarding?

Overcoming hoarding isn’t an easy task, but it’s a rewarding one for everyone involved and is necessary if the individual wants to lead a better life. That’s why it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional as soon as it’s detected.

At Mind Diagnostics, we understand the many challenges hoarders face daily, especially when they decide it’s time to seek help. We’ve dedicated ourselves to helping others find joy and happiness where it’s been lost.

Since we have so much experience working with individuals just like you, we’re going to share some of our most prominent tips for stopping hoarding from ruining your life any further. Together, we can open up a world of new opportunities for you and your loved ones.

Tip #1: Take Advantage Of Your Support Group

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Everyone needs a support group. Whether you were in a traffic accident, are going through a divorce, or just lost your job, a support group can help you cope with anything if you allow it to. Of course, things are no different with a hoarding disorder.

Most people suffering from a hoarding disorder don’t understand how their behaviors or decisions affect the people around them. They slowly see their relationships with others deteriorate over time, and instead of working on themselves, they start to feel worse about themselves -- which makes the hoarding worse.

Hoarders need their support group just as much as anyone else. The problem is most people’s support groups don’t understand how serious of an issue this is. Most people simply don’t understand that this disorder needs to be looked at by a professional.

That’s why it’s all-the-more critical to understand the warning signs, complications, and dangers of a hoarding disorder -- whether you’re the individual with the hoarding disorder or have a loved one suffering from a hoarding disorder.

The amazing thing about a support group is it’s a collective -- everyone’s working together towards the same goal. It helps bring everyone together and gets everyone on the same page.

Tip #2: Replace Bad Habits With Healthy Habits

Although hoarding is classified as a disorder, we must view it as nothing more than a bad habit that needs to be corrected. Of course, the reasons and causes for that bad habit vary from person to person, but the ‘bad habit’ mindset helps you understand there’s a way out.

What we need to do is train our minds to not only resist the urges to hoard but also to deflect that urge into a healthier habit. It’s a win-win situation that allows you to forget about your hoarding tendencies and focus more on building a healthy life.

Eventually, you’ll feel much more freedom on a daily basis because the hoarding won’t be holding you back anymore. It won’t keep you away from your loved ones, it won’t destroy your home, and it won’t destroy your mental or physical health.

Tip #3: Practice The OHIO Principle

The OHIO principle is a unique way of determining the value or use of something for future considerations. It’s an acronym that stands for ‘Only Handle It Once.’ It was largely used as a productive way to monitor your emails, but it also helps hoarders struggle when making decisions about certain belongings.

With emails, the concept is simple. When you receive an email -- or whenever you get a chance to open it -- decide what to do with that email right then and there, think it over briefly if you need to, but make a decision to either respond to it or trash it. Whichever you decide, do it immediately.

When it comes to hoarding, the OHIO principle helps minimize indecisiveness and prevents you from keeping items that have no value to you. Instead of moving something from one pile to another without using it, try only handling it once (OHIO). If you keep picking it up and asking, “Do I need this?” chances are you don’t.

It’s like those boxes in your closet that make their way to the garage before moving to the attic. In that situation, the box was handled three times without being used. Save yourself the time, space, and energy by getting rid of it now.

Tip #4: When Decluttering, Take Small Steps

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Since hoarding gets worse the longer it goes undetected, decluttering a home while receiving the proper hoarding treatment is often an enormous job -- even for a professional cleanup service. Many people avoid the decluttering process strictly due to laziness.

Decluttering takes time, patience, and effort -- not just from the individual suffering from the disorder, but their loved ones as well. The decluttering process must be a team effort, especially since it acts as an excellent bonding activity for the individual, family, and friends.

No matter how much help you have, don’t overwork yourself. Keep in mind there’s still a lot to overcome this disorder. Decluttering is necessary because it’s a result of the disorder, but it doesn’t solve the disorder or make it any better.

To ensure the individual still has the time and personal space to fight through this disorder, break up the decluttering process into small steps. Don’t try to do it all at once, but instead focus on one room at a time -- or even one area.

What you’re trying to avoid here is overwhelming the individual with too much change in one setting. Take it slow, for everyone’s sake.

Tip #5: Keep vs. Throw vs. IDK

During the decluttering process, we always suggest throwing items into one of three piles. The first pile is reserved for items the individual certainly wants to keep, the second pile is reserved for items that need to be thrown out, and the third pile is reserved for items they’re indecisive about.

As you fill up each box, the individual must understand what each box represents and what happens to each box once it’s filled. For example, the second box needs to be thrown out immediately without hesitation. These are items they won’t have use for but are also items no one else could find a use for.

The first pile will eventually go back into the house, but you’ll need to make sure it’s returned in an organized manner. After all, that’s the reason you’re decluttering the home. It’s also a good opportunity to teach the individual how to organize things and where things should/can go.

The third box is a little tricky because it contains items that could be in either the ‘throw-away’ or ‘keep’ box. Make sure you go through each item one-by-one. Have the individual explain why they want to keep it -- if their reasoning is logical, then keep it, but only if it makes sense to.

If it doesn’t make sense, explain to them why. Again, they need to use this as an opportunity to learn.

Tip #6: Donate Items You Dont Need

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As you come across items that aren’t needed by the individual but might be of use to someone else, we always recommend donating the item to someone less fortunate. There are so many reasons why we suggest it, and they’re all designed to help the individual overcome the hoarding.

First, it makes the individual feel good about themselves because they’re helping someone else. It’s a way of recycling one bad habit into someone else’s good fortune, which helps the world spin ‘round and ‘round.

Second, it helps someone in need. Let’s be honest; the world could always use a little more collaboration and togetherness. Third, it helps the individual declutter their home while finding value in someone else’s home.

Finally, it teaches the individual that while they’re currently overcoming a dangerous disorder, there’s still hope, and there’s still a way out. They can still do good and be a good person, despite the mistakes they’ve made in the past. It’s an opportunity for a fresh start.

Tip #7: Seek Professional Help Today

The hoarding tips discussed above are excellent ways of teaching yourself or a loved one how to stop hoarding. With that being said, our last tip is more of a necessity when learning how to stop hoarding habits.

Mental health professionals are the only ones trained to detect, diagnose, and treat a hoarding disorder. It’s also important to note that most people suffering from a hoarding disorder also suffer from other mental or behavioral disorders -- making the professional even more necessary.

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After speaking with a mental health professional, they’ll determine whether or not a hoarding disorder is an issue, whether or not there are other issues and the hoarding, and what the next steps the individual should take in getting better. For many people, the professional consider cognitive behavioral therapy or another form of psychotherapy.

Suppose you’re having a hard time understanding what a hoarding disorder is or whether it’s affecting your life but don’t have the resources to speak with a mental health professional. In that case, Mind Diagnostics is here to help.

We’ve created an online hoarding disorder test to detect and identify those at an increased risk of the disorder. By the time you finish the test, which only takes a few minutes, you’ll have a better idea of whether or not professional help is needed. If it is, we can help with that too.

We believe everyone should have the tools and resources needed to improve their life and seek help when they need it. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you and your loved ones.