Helping a Hoarder

Hoarding is an obsessive compulsive anxiety disorder which often involves an individual to acquire a pattern of behaviour characterised by accumulating a large number of possessions that are not of or very little in value that seem to be useless. The hoarder will have an inability or unwillingness to discard of what a normal person would deem as rubbish, that covers the living areas of their home causing the individual to be distressed or otherwise impaired. When hoarding becomes clinically significant enough to impair functioning it can prevent activities associated with typical spaces in the home, such as being able to cook in your kitchen, cleaning, sleeping or even moving through your home. Hoarding can also get to a point where it becomes a health risk as factors including fire risk, poor sanitation, trip hazards as well as many various mental and physical health concerns. Compulsive hoarders may be aware of their irrational behaviour, but the emotional attachment to the obtained objects exceeds their motive to discard of them.

Hoarding is Different From Collecting

There is a difference between collecting and hoarding, they are in no way the same thing. Collecting items usually involves an individual talking and displaying their collection in an organised manner, and also feels a sense of pride, they enjoy adding to their collection and often set a budget. On the other hand a hoarder will not feel joy or pride but other wise a sense of embarrassment about their possessions and will generally feel uncomfortable when seen by others. Instead of feeling good when making purchases they often have feelings of sadness and shame for adding to their possessions. Hoarding may also lead individuals to incur large amounts of debt.

Being a Hoarder Can Negatively Impact Your Wellbeing

The most typical description to give someone that hoards is a person who avoids throwing away possessions, common hoarded items include food, clothing that doesn’t fit, paper, magazines, etc. Individuals that hoard may experience severe anxiety about discarding possessions, has trouble making decisions about organising possessions as well as being suspicious of others touching their possessions. Hoarders may have obsessive thoughts about possessions and may experience fear fear of running out of an item they may need later, or even going through the garbage just in case something was thrown out accidentally. Hoarding contributes to social isolation, family and marital problems as well as financial difficulties. It is a mental disorder either present on it’s own or may be a symptom associated with depression, ADHD and obsessive compulsive disorder, which there fore impacts all other aspects of the individuals well being.

Helping a Hoarder Isn’t Just About Removing Rubbish

There are many reasons in which people hoard, some include but are not limited to an individual believing an item may become useful or valuable to them in the future, sentimental value, or an item being a reminder that will jog their memory. Helping a hoarder isn’t about just removing the rubbish, it is about treating the underlying illness which is causing the hoarding.

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