Team at University of Bath conducting research into hoarding

Credit: ITV West Country

A team at University of Bath is conducting experiments to find out more about hoarding.

The condition, which compels people to avoid getting rid of possessions, has been seen as a distinct mental health problem since 2013.

Researchers say some people's lives are being seriously affected by the lack of space in their homes.

ITV West Country has spoken to a self-confessed hoarder from Somerset who says the condition is ruining her life.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, says she believes the problem began years ago when she was housebound for a few months.

"I could not do my usual shopping and I was a bit of a shopper. At the weekend my husband would take me round the charity shops to make me feel a bit better and I started buying things. Perhaps a picture of Italy which reminded me of a holiday to Italy.

"My son left a book on my bed about hoarding and I found it when I went to bed that night. I read it and thought he is right. Not only that, I thought about how it was affecting him.

"I am so ashamed of it. It's the reason why I don't invite friends to my house any more because I am so ashamed of the state my house has got into. Now I have realised this is a psychological problem. I want to talk about it to help other people."

The experiment tests how people form associations between objects. Credit: ITV West Country

Dr James Gregory from Bath University says hoarding was medically recognised in 2013 and to have it accepted as a condition "has allowed us to research and understand it in a way which will hopefully make huge advancements".

"Although these objects provide a sense of security and comfort, people can also feel trapped by their possessions."

Dr Gregory says hoarding can have a huge impact on people's lives.

The researcher behind the project, Alice Kilvert says the study "hopes to increase our understanding of how people with hoarding difficulties categorise and sort their possessions.

"I am really excited to understand better how different individuals relate to their possessions and what may be affecting this. By participating in this study you can play a pivotal role in increasing our understanding of hoarding so we can develop better ways of supporting individuals who want or need our help."

Alice explained the experiment to ITV West Country's Ellie Barker who volunteered to take part.

You can find more information about the study and how to get involved on the Bath University website.