Overstuffed closet sign you have a medical disorder, experts say

Published Sep 11, 2018, 4:48 pm IST
Updated Sep 11, 2018, 4:48 pm IST
WHO recently recognised hoarding as a psychiatric disorder.
Overstuffed closet sign you have a medical disorder, experts say. (Photo: Pixabay)
 Overstuffed closet sign you have a medical disorder, experts say. (Photo: Pixabay)

Letting go of things like that pair of jeans you believe you will soon fit into or that dress from a thousand years ago you believe works everytime, is hard to get rid of.

But what happens when those treasured items start to pile up to the point where you can't shut your stuffed wardrobe?


Stephanie Evans knows how difficult it can get when you hold on too tight. Her things spilled out of her cupboard and all over her bedroom. It was filled with so many clothes, book and magazines that she ended up sleeping in her living room on the sofa.

"I hated the way the clutter made me feel but I just couldn’t throw anything away —even if something broke I couldn’t part with it," the 51-year-old teaching assistant from Birmingham (UK), told the Daily Mail.

"I just told myself I needed more shelves and storage space and that one day I would sort it all out. Family would sometimes help me clear it, but I would fill the space again and this left me feeling even more of a failure," she went on to explain.

You would describe someone like that as too lazy to clean up, but that is not what the experts say is the root cause.

Stephanie is reportedly one of 3.4 million people in the UK that suffer from hoarding disorder. According to the report, it is "defined as having an excessive number of items, having persistent difficulty throwing possessions away and storing them in a chaotic manner, to such an extent that this interferes with everyday living and causes significant distress or affects quality of life".

The World Health Organisation (WHO) just recently recognised it as a psychiatric disorder. It was previously thought to be a type of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), where people tend to repeat certain thoughts or behaviours.

Some hoarders will hold on to everything no matter how big or small. Others keep specific objects.

In 2013, the British Psychological Society compiled guidelines on hoarding. In it, one of the authors Dr Stuart Whomsley, an NHS clinical psychologist, stated:

"Hoarders fear making the wrong decision about what to keep and what to throw out, so they keep everything.  

"It is a psychological condition and not a lifestyle choice.

"It can be associated with other mental health conditions such as depression and social anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or OCD."

Clearing up the cluttered space, isn't going to solve the issue, as the individual suffering from the disorder will most likely continue to hoard.

Psychological therapies like talk therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are some treatments used to encourage people to react differently to everyday events.

Research conducted by a team from Deakin University in Australia, found a 12-week CBT programme developed to reduce hoarding, helped improve participants’ symptoms.

The findings were originally published in the journal Clinical Psychological Psychotherapy.