You have probably heard of hoarding before. In recent years, this compulsion has been brought to light by several reality television shows. These programs depict people who are practically drowning in garbage and their possessions. Some people have family members and friends who suffer from this disorder. Here is what you need to know about hoarding and what you can to do to help.
What Is Hoarding?
Hoarding is when things are accumulated or kept when most people would otherwise get rid of the items. This isn't just collecting keepsakes. This is saving every newspaper, magazine, or cardboard box because you might need it in the future. This is refusing to throw away clothing that is never worn. This is buying things you don't need simply because they are on sale and you might use them someday. This is collecting trash.
What Are The Common Symptoms Of Hoarding?
Hoarding usually has psychological components to it. The behavior frequently begins after a traumatic loss of some kind, such as an unexpected death of a loved one. Sometimes, it results from extreme poverty as a child. Hoarding is almost always a component of obsessive-compulsive behavior, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and/or depression.
While most people hoard things, some people hoard animals. Their intentions are good, but in the end, the animals usually suffer as the person becomes unable to see that they can't care for them properly.
Symptoms commonly associated with hoarders include the following:
- The inability to throw things in the garbage
- Panic attacks and anxiety if they try to throw things away or fear others will
- Feeling overwhelmed and ashamed at their inability to live "normally"
- Worry about where to put or store things
- Fear their secret will be discovered
- Obsessing over where things are and if their stash is safe from other family members
- Depression and anxiety from the lack of control and the effects of hoarding on their health, quality of living, their home, finances, and their interpersonal relationships
How Can Hoarders Be Helped?
Helping a hoarder isn't easy. Like any problem, the person has to want help, and they have to be sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. Loved ones can help by doing research. There are several books on the market for this purpose.
Once you have a better understanding of the situation, the next step is to talk to the hoarder with the goal of getting them to seek professional mental health services. Once you and the hoarder have reached this step, their therapist will begin preparing them for tackling the job of cleaning the mess up. This will often require the assistance of not only the mental health professional but professional organizers and a cleaning crew as well.
Because of the massive amounts of garbage to go through and the time it will take, a dumpster will need to be rented for weeks, sometime months, as the mounds are slowly sorted through and removed. After the garbage removal is complete, the home then will usually need repairs from all of the years of accumulated mess preventing basic maintenance.