The first ever study of pathological hoarding in New Zealand has estimated 35,000 Kiwis are clinically severe hoarders and it has prompted a call for more funding to help sufferers.
The Univeristy of Otago study examined over 400 Canterbury residents over the age of 50 and 2.5 per cent of them met the clinical criteria for pathological hoarding.
A further four per cent, or 56,000 people have sub-clinical hoarding issues.
Chalice researcher Janet Spittlehouse told 1 NEWS they asked participants "if they have difficulty throwing things away and if that causes them a lot of distress".
"We asked them about the clutter in their home and whether parts of the house are no longer usable," she said.
The study also found 80 per cent of clinically severe hoarders are women, 70 per cent of them are single and struggling financially and 50 per cent are clinically depressed.
Ms Spittlehouse said they may feel safer "when they're around their possessions".
Age Concern is worried there isn't enough support for the growing number of people struggling with the disorder and hopes the new statistics will get more help for people living with the mental illness.
"It's pretty hearbreaking there isn't a lot of help or support out there," Age Concern's Simon Templeton said.
"Generally there wouldn't be a week that went past where we didn't get a referral for someone with reasonably severe hoarding," he said.