Hoarding, Stockpiling, Panic Buying: What's Normal Behavior in an Abnormal Time?

Hoarding, Stockpiling, Panic Buying: What's Normal Behavior in an Abnormal Time?

Symptoms of depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders have emerged or worsened for many during the pandemic. This is no surprise to clinicians and scientists, who have been increasing worldwide access to mental health information and resources.


But what effect has the pandemic had on another common but often misunderstood problem – hoarding? The issue first received attention when people piled up paper towels, toilet tissue and hand sanitizer in their shopping carts at the start of the pandemic, leading some people to wonder whether they or a loved one were showing signs of hoarding disorder.


The short answer is: Probably not. Hoarding disorder goes beyond stockpiling in an emergency. I am a psychiatrist at the University of Florida and the director of the Center for OCD, Anxiety and Related Disorders. I also recently authored a book on hoarding disorder. My work focuses on identifying the causes of hoarding and its impact on individuals and on society.


Millions Have Hoarding Disorder


Although often sensationalized in the popular press as a behavioral oddity, hoarding disorder is a serious psychiatric illness affecting more than 13 million American adults. The cause is a complex interaction of bi ..