Risk factors and Treatment for Hoarding
The Mayo Clinic defines hoarding as, “The excessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them. Hoarding often creates such cramped living conditions that homes may be filled to capacity, with only narrow pathways winding through stacks of clutter. Some people also collect animals, keeping dozens or hundreds of pets in unsanitary conditions.
Hoarding, also called compulsive hoarding and compulsive hoarding syndrome, can be a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). But many people who hoard don’t have other OCD-related symptoms, and researchers are working to better understand hoarding as a distinct mental health problem.”
- Age: Hoarding usually begins in early adolescence and gets worse with age.
- Family History: People are more likely to hard of they have a close relative who is a compulsive hoarder.
- Stress: Some people develop hoarding after a stressful life event that they had difficulty coping with.
- Social Isolation: People who hoard are generally socially withdrawn and isolated, although there is some question as to which came first.
- Perfectionism: People who compulsively hoard are often perfectionist.
Treatment depends on hoarders realizing the need for help. Hoarders should seek out advice from a physician or mental health provider who has experience in treating hoarding. Medication for antidepressants or obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD) may also be prescribed.
The Mayo Clinic also offers these steps for the compulsive hoarder:
- Stick to your treatment plan if you’re receiving treatment.
- Try to keep up personal hygiene and bathing.
- Make sure you’re getting proper nutrition.
- Reach out to others.
- Remind yourself that you don’t have to live in squalor and chaos — that you deserve better.
- If you feel overwhelmed by the volume of your possessions and the decluttering task that lies ahead, remember that you can take small steps.
- To keep motivated to declutter, focus on your goals — living a healthier and more enjoyable life.
- Do what’s best for your pets. If the number of pets you have has grown beyond your ability to care for them properly, remind yourself that you aren’t doing them any favors.
Writer Ann Pietrangelo embraces the concept of personal responsibility for health and wellness. As a person living with multiple sclerosis, she combines a healthy lifestyle and education with modern medicine, and seeks to provide information and support to others. She is a regular contributor to Care2 Causes. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo