Are You A Hoarder? An Expert Helps Define the Disorder

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EULESS, Texas -- Rooms packed floor to ceiling, with items most would consider junk. Unlivable conditions, barely enough room to walk.

These are the harsh realities for those living with hoarding disorder. It’s a condition that affects about 5% of the population, according to the International OCD Foundation.

On Thursday, Matt Paxton, one of the stars of Lifetime TV’s “Hoarders: Family Secrets,” spoke to a group at ServiceMaster Advanced Restorations in Euless.

“The most important thing we’ve learned over the last 10 years working with hoarders is that there’s always a reason,” said Paxton. “No one just wakes up and says, ‘Hey, I want to collect all this stuff.’ Something bad has happened to them, and they’ve started collecting because they’re looking for their happiness and self-worth in stuff.”

But how can you tell the difference from clutter and compulsive hoarding?

“Hoarding is a very overused term. Hoarding is when it has actually caused you harm in your life. Does your problem, or do you have a public safety issue? That’s what hoarding is," Paxton said. "A lot of people are messy and there’s nothing wrong with that, but when it causes public safety issues, that’s when it technically becomes hoarding.”

Well, besides leading massive clean-ups himself, Matt is also out to remove the stigma so easily attached to this problem.

“When you see someone hoarding, don’t say ‘Ew gross, what’s wrong with you?’” Paxton said, “Think to yourself, ‘oh wait, this is a real person where something bad’s happened to them, how can I help them?’”