How to talk to hoarders about stockpiling items

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There's a difference between stockpiling and hoarding.

With reports of product shortages, store closings and pictures of empty store shelves, it appears that the coronavirus pandemic has sparked panic-buying. This can lead to instances of hoarding, which probably isn't the best course of action, according to experts.

"Hoarding under these pressures seems perfectly normal," Dr. Tony Ortega, a licensed psychologist and the author of "#IsHeHereYet: Being The Person You Want To Be With," explained to Fox News. "The predominant feeling we are experiencing globally is powerlessness. No one likes to feel powerless, yet this is an internal state based on external circumstances we can't do anything about. The human psyche then gravitates towards something they can control."

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According to Ortega, hoarding provides immediate gratification during a time period when people feel powerless.

"We may even look at the food we have hoarded and feel very powerful immediately afterward. Yet, when the initial rush dies down, we facepalm," Dr. Ortega explained. "We could prevent hoarding by making lists of exactly what we need when we order or go to the grocery store."

"You could also ask yourself, when purchasing an item, 'Is this something I want or something I need?' A want can be fueled by anxiety. A need is not."

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If you know someone who's hoarding, Dr. Ortega recommends not confronting the behavior head-on. "This will only create defensiveness in the person, and a productive dialogue will likely not happen," he said. "The most important thing we can do for someone who is experiencing a greater level of anxiety than we are is to validate their feelings."

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He continued: "This is to say that you understand why they are feeling this way and why these feelings are feeling the panic-buying (or any other impulsive behavior). Once the person knows you get them, they will be more open to listening to what you have to say about not panic-buying."