Most of us, when asked, can give an example of a recent purchase we’ve made that is currently just sitting in our homes unused. It may be an item of clothing we never ended up wearing, a tool we don’t need, or a piece of décor that ends up sitting in a closet.
For a large number of people, this doesn’t pose too much of a problem. We’ll go through our belongings, donate what we never actually used, and move on, lesson learned. For others, though, they not only feel compelled to shop and bring home what they bought but are also never able to get rid of the purchased items. Over time, these items accumulate to the degree where the amount of stuff infringes on their ability to live their daily lives.
What is shopping hoarding?
Shopping hoarding, like other types of hoarding, is an often unseen issue raging in someone’s life. It happens when a person suffers from a compulsive need to make new and unneeded purchases and hoard them in their home or storage spaces unused without being able to discard the items afterward. Signs of a person who is a compulsive shopper and hoarder include:
- A person buys and keeps numerous items whether or not they are actually used
- The items are (usually) unorganized and not stored in an orderly fashion
- Items clutter the living space and overtake the rooms to the point the rooms are not able to be used as intended
- There are financial and/or relationship issues due to the shopping and hoarding
Due to a person’s shame and discomfort around having anyone else in the home, friends and family may never know a person is dealing with such issues until there is legal action due to the hoarding or the person passes away. Those cleaning out the home may then discover the unopened bags and boxes, the clothing with the tags still on, or the multiple belongings stacked in every available space.
Why does a person become a shopping hoarder?
A person usually becomes a shopping hoarder because they are trying to fill an emotional hole in their life they haven’t ever truly dealt with. This can be a past trauma, death of a loved one, lack of self-worth, or an obsessive compulsive disorder. Not willing to deal with the underlying pain, they self-sooth through shopping, whether online or in a store. They find making a purchase comforts them, gives them a sense of self-worth, and helps them not have to deal with the pain within.
Like a drug addict looking for their next fix, shopping hoarders feel compelled to repeatedly shop. Every time they make a purchase or packages arrive in the mail, the chemical dopamine is released in their brain and they feel good. The stuff itself doesn’t matter to them – it’s the emotional attachment they have to acquiring and storing it that makes it so hard to stop.
Intervention and treatment
Without a major intervention and therapy to deal with the underlying issues of why someone feels compelled to shop and store the bought items in ever increasing piles, the underlying reason is never resolved, and the shopping will continue. A trained psychologist can work with a patient to uncover the deeper reasons beyond any surface issues and work with the person to resolve them and help them grow in the ways they’ve been missing. In some cases, financial intervention and even medication to deal with depression or other anxiety disorders may be needed.
The dangers of compulsive shopping and hoarding
In addition to the financial issues and relationship issues that compulsive shopping and hoarding can cause, there are numerous safety issues as items collect on a property. Houses were built to only hold so much weight on the floor supports. As items build up, the strain of the additional weight can damage these supports and make the building unsafe to inhabit. In addition, as rooms build up with new belongings, mold, dust, and pests can find their way among the boxes and bags causing further damage.
As many people feel ashamed of their hoarding, they may not let repairman come onto the property as needed to maintain safe living conditions which leads to even faster deterioration. Though they may know on some level the damage done, they are continually compelled to shop and hoard until one day they either find help or pass away.
I need help cleaning up a shopping hoard!
If you need help cleaning a property after someone has hoarded purchases, Georgia Clean is here for you with fast and efficient hoarding cleanup. Our team has years of experience and know how to quickly work through areas in hours or days that would take family and friends weeks or moths to handle. Don’t put yourself through all that angst; rely on us to provide quality service and an easy solution.
With a sharp eye for any family mementos, valuables, or important paperwork, you don’t have to worry anything of importance will be lost or thrown away. We’ll look out for any lost items and set them all aside to be looked through later.
Georgia Clean is committed to adding as little to a landfill as possible. We therefor make sure any items in good enough condition to donate are given to charities that can make use of the items or are recycled whenever possible.
If you need help cleaning out a hoard, see our hoarding cleanup page or call us with any questions you may have at 770-766-4562. We are happy to provide a free quote and consultation so you understand our cleaning process and we can understand your needs.