Indications you or a loved one may have a hoarding disorder

Press Staff Writer

        Just about every individual has mementos, collectibles and other belongings that they feel a sentimental attachment to. Such items take up residence in individuals’ homes but also in their hearts. However, when individuals attach such feelings to more and more items, that could be an indication of a burgeoning hoarding disorder.
        Hoarding is a recognized mental health condition. The American Psychiatric Association says people with hoarding disorder have “persistent difficulty getting rid of or parting with possessions.” This desire to hold on to things comes from a “perceived need to save the items.” When items are tossed away or taken, it can cause considerable distress. The Mayo Clinic says those with hoarding disorder may quickly accumulate huge numbers of items, regardless of their actual value. Homes can become overrun with stuff piled in any conceivable location, eventually making the home unsafe to inhabit.
        While collecting involves acquiring possessions in an intentional and organized fashion, hoarding is largely impulsive and triggered by the sight of an item or another contributing factor. Hoarding can affect a person’s life in many ways, and recognizing potential signs of hoarding may help individuals get the help they need.
        • The APA says hoarding incidence rates are higher among people who are age 60 or older and those with psychiatric conditions like anxiety, schizophrenia or depression.
        • People who hoard are more likely to have had a deprived childhood, with either a lack of objects or poor relationships with other family members.
        • Hoarders tend to find it hard to categorize or organize items they keep. Many of these items have little or no monetary value, and may include junk mail, newspapers, books, or items they intend to reuse or repair.
        • Those with hoarding disorder may try to hide it and keep others out of their homes altogether, or have specific rooms that are off-limits, advises the San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive Therapy.
        • Conversations may revolve around stuff rather than relationships.
        • Hoarding may be discovered when bills go unpaid or there is extreme debt due to compulsive spending.
        • Someone who hoards may have trouble finding things or insist on keeping their belongings piled in stacks rather than in closets or cabinets.
        • Many times hoarding disorder evolves when a person feels comforted and safe when surrounded by things or feels he or she doesn’t want to waste anything.
        • Hoarding can extend to animals as well. Hoarding pets puts the animals at extreme risk, as they often cannot be cared for properly in homes where hoarding is taking place.
        If these symptoms sound familiar, then hoarding disorder may be present. While it can be uncomfortable to admit to hoarding, with the help of loved ones and a health professional, hoarding can be overcome.


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