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Hoarding vs. Clutter: What’s the Difference?

Hoarding vs. Clutter Whats the Difference

It can be challenging to distinguish between a hoarder and someone who’s often messy. However, where a disorganized individual eventually cleans their surroundings, someone with a hoarding disorder will struggle psychologically to do the same. The struggle can be so huge that the clutter builds into extremes, increasing the risk of physical injury and unsanitary conditions.

Hoarding disorder must be understood as the mental health condition it is. While it can be hard to understand why someone might hoard from the outside, they must seek help as soon as possible.

Read on to discover the differences between hoarding and clutter, what might cause individuals to start hoarding, and related symptoms. Alternatively, if you are ready to have a property cleaned, get in touch with our Hoarder Cleanout Services team!

What Is Hoarding?

Hoarding is a disorder that often stems from various factors, including but not limited to depression, OCD, or loneliness. Due to hoarding arising from these severe conditions, those with a hoarding disorder must seek professional help.

Hoarding isn’t simply holding onto a few sentimental items. Instead, those with a hoarding disorder are often extreme in how much they keep in their home. For example, things aren’t acquired with any particular meaning. Instead, items might be free, like “junk” from the side of the road or complimentary newspapers. The excessive nature of hoarding can lead to severe consequences, such as diminished personal hygiene and driving those with the disorder away from their social circles or societal norms.

Practically, hoarding in a home can lead to trip hazards and increase fire risks, or objects can fall on people if left in tall piles. This increases the risk of injury to the individual with the disorder and those around them.

Causes of Hoarding

Hoarding isn’t a simple disorder; every individual with the condition is different, and the reasoning for hoarding (conscious or subconscious) isn’t the same for everyone. While hoarders typically show symptoms of hoarding as young adults, hoarding is a more prevalent disorder among older adults.

Some of the causes include:

  • Indecisive personality
  • Family members also have the same condition
  • Stress, brought on by a distressing life event
  • Underlying mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, schizophrenia, or dementia and OCD – however, studies are showing that while OCD and hoarding differ but the same “alarm” goes off in their brain
  • With such a range of possible causes, often stemming from mental health conditions, it’s clear that psychological help from a mental health professional is recommended to get the root of the reason.

Hoarding Symptoms

With everyone experiencing this disorder differently, there are a variety of different symptoms that a person can experience. While symptoms often appear in individuals as young adults, they become more prevalent or exaggerated as they get older, particularly after 40-50 years old.

Symptoms could include:

  • An inability to throw objects or trash away, even if they’ve little emotional value
  • Emotional distress when thinking about throwing away items
  • Believing that keeping objects is the only option
  • An inability to move around your home, or use it properly, because of the build-up of items
  • Signs of perfectionism, avoidance, procrastination, indecisiveness
  • Trouble planning or organizing
  • This isn’t an exhaustive list, so bear that in mind when assessing your symptoms or those around you. If you have any doubts, please seek professional mental health assistance.

What Is Clutter?

Clutter is generally disorganized objects filling the same space. The difference between disorder and clutter is that clutter is simply an untidy space yet tidied. For example, when you first move into a house and need to unpack, it often takes a few days before the area is tidy.

Other examples of clutter could include:

  • Piles of clothes
  • Unfinished artwork
  • Open books
  • Boxes yet to be unpacked

Typically, clutter won’t stop you from accessing and using your home as needed; it’s a potential nuisance, but it’s not considered harmful.

What Are the Differences Between Hoarding and Clutter?

While clutter is a collection of items yet to be tidied, a hoard of items is an ongoing collection of things. It could cause the individual severe stress even to think about it. Likewise, clutter often isn’t as extreme.

While clutter does create a mess in your home, hoarding is so extreme that it takes over your home. The disorder prevents you from using your home properly, causing trip and fire hazards.

What Are the Impacts of Hoarding?

Physical Health

Hoarding takes over the hoarder’s life because their possessions often rule their household after an accumulation of items gets in the way of their movements and cleaning. The unsanitary conditions from accumulating things pose health risks and make the house inaccessible.

Mental Health

It’s no surprise that this disorder is now considered a mental health disorder, and support groups can offer help. This disorder often isolates those with it from their friends and family, causing loneliness and isolation. Additionally, the stress of seeking help can perpetuate the problem.

Relationship Strain

No matter how much you love or care for someone with a hoarding disorder, there can be resentment and frustration throughout the relationship due to various factors. The build-up of negativity can result in a situation where people no longer feel equipped to be around the individual with the hoarding disorder.

For spouses, this can go as far as resulting in divorce, which becomes incredibly complicated should they have children living in the house. Should images of the hoarding be used in a court case, there’s a risk that the person with the hoarding disorder could lose custody of their child or children due to the unsanitary conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Clutter Lead To Hoarding?

Clutter differs from hoarding; while clutter can be present in a hoarder’s home, one doesn’t necessarily lead to another. Clutter is a messy space where an individual intends to tidy or dispose of trash, whereas hoarding is more permanent and without the tidying intention.

How Do You Tell if Someone Is a Hoarder or Just Messy?

A hoarder typically displays symptoms such as finding it stressful to throw away objects with no meaning attached to them or genuinely believing that it’s impossible to dispose of items. A messy individual is likelier to create clutter and later tidy it away.

Need Help Disposing of Junk? We Can Help!

It’s vital that no matter what circumstance your hoarding is in or that of a loved one, you seek help as soon as possible. One supportive solution is to clean and enlist the services of professionals. That’s where Nixxit Junk’s hoarder cleanout services can help! Our friendly team is dedicated to cleaning hoarded spaces with compassion and efficiency.

Need Help With a Hoarder Cleanout in the Bay Area, CA?

Nixxit Junk Removal can help with your hoarder cleanout needs in the Bay Area.

  • 10+ Years of Experience Working with Hoarders
  • Locally Owned and Operated
  • Sensitive and Discreet Approach
  • Full-Service Removal and Sorting
  • Donation and Recycling
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nixxitjunk · Jun 13