Who Needs Help

Who Needs Hoarding Treatment

Hoarding is a mental health condition that has been getting more exposure recently with a variety of different TV shows that profile hoarders and the process of treatment that they undergo. While these shows are not trying to make light of the condition, society is getting so much exposure to it, in a way, it makes it seem more normal and acceptable. Compulsive hoarders do require help, just because there are others out there who also hoard, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a problem.  Hoarding typically has underlying emotional causes and is typically characterized by the unwillingness to get rid of anything. Not everyone who keeps emotionally significant items can be classified as a hoarder, but those that truly have this mental health condition do require hoarding addiction treatment.

Approximately one million Americans are believed to engage in compulsive hoarding behavior. This disorder controls a person’s life to such an extent that all the “stuff” impedes their daily routines and poses severe health and safety hazards.

Characteristics of Hoarding

There are some specific characteristics of hoarding that can be easily recognized especially to visitors that enter into a hoarder’s home since this is the location where they would typically keep their belongings and participate in their hoarding activities.

Hoarders may:
help for hoarding

  • Be unable to discard items that come into their possession no matter how unimportant they may seem
  • Desire to acquire things that they truly don’t need and collect these items in mass numbers
  • Keep stacks of newspapers, junk mail or magazines which they refuse to discard even once they’ve finished reading them
  • Save trash or used food containers and keep them around the home, sometimes in unusual locations
  • Have a very cluttered home that prevents them from completing normal daily activities. It may be that they have no place to sit because there are too many items on a couch, or they may find it difficult to get around their home because of the items that block their hallway
  • Be perfectionists. This can be hard for others to understand when they see the state of a hoarder’s home, but the reality is to them, their home with the items they’ve kept are perfect and are organized in a way that they’re comfortable with
  • Form strong attachments to their possessions, but they may struggle to relate to people
  • Stop other people from touching their possessions under any circumstance

Not all hoarders have all of these characteristics, but a combination of some of these behaviors may indicate that an individual is a compulsive hoarder. Once it’s become clear that someone is a hoarder, treatment is necessary. Though, better understanding why people hoard can indicate just why treatment is so important.

Why People Hoard

Hoarders don’t just keep things because they like them, there are deeper emotional reasons and compulsions that lead to hoarding. This is why treatment is required for all hoarders, regardless of how bad their hoarding activities have gotten, because hoarding indicates that there are bigger problems present. Some of the reasons that people hoard can include the following:

  1. Hoarders feel that an object is part of them, often because it signifies a memory or has sentimental value in some way (note: everything can have sentimental value to hoarders). They believe that in getting rid of an item means that they’re losing a part of themselves. There are typically emotional traumas present that lead to these ideas and they require treatment
  2. Hoarders can have problems making decisions in the same way that people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder do. They’re simply afraid that if they discard something that will be the wrong choice, and that eats away at them
  3. Hoarders can exercise their compulsions by organizing their items. While a hoarder’s home may seem chaotic to individuals on the outside, hoarders typically have logic behind where and how they keep things, and removing items messes with that system
  4. Hoarders often believe that having certain items around will help them out in an emergency. They hang onto things that aren’t rational ‘just in case’ the opportunity will arise when they or someone else might need them. To a hoarder, anything that could have a potential purpose must be kept. Again, this is linked to the OCD that most hoarders have and that requires treatmen
  5. Hoarders want to maintain control over their lives and all of the things in it. They may not be able to control everything, but what they can control are the things they own. If they give an item away, that control is lost
  6. Hoarders feel a sense of duty or responsibility to not waste anything. Disposing of items causes them to experience guilt and worry that they may be throwing away an item someone else may want or need someday.
  7. Perfectionism might seems counter-intuitive at first, however, part of the cycle of hoarding is being worried that throwing away a particular item may be a “mistake.” Another part of the cycle is that hoarders tend to be people who won’t do something unless they can be perfect at it. Attempting to sustain perfectionism in the face of mass clutter is overwhelming and renders the hoarder incapable of starting the arduous process of cleaning up.

Hoarding TreatmentWhy Hoarders Require Treatment

The activities of hoarders as outlined above do characterize that there are deeper mental health problems present. Hoarding is just the way that these problems have manifested themselves. Of course, hoarding can also pose physical risks when there is too much clutter in a home or it is becoming unsanitary. When a hoarder is risking their health and safety, then intervention is truly necessary.

Signs Someone Needs Hoarding Help

A hoarder can hide their disorder for a long period of time from anyone who is not permitted inside their home. However, if you are a family member living with a hoarder or a friend they trust enough to allow inside then signs of hoarding are easy to observe. Here are some behaviors you may witness inside the home of a compulsive hoarder who needs help:

  • Collects Purposeless Items. Obsessively collects items considered worthless and useless by typical societal standards; items such as junk mail, old newspapers, catalogs and anything they receive for free are characteristically amassed by compulsive hoarders. They will also habitually accumulate items for particular activities or purposes that are never realized. For example collecting things for making crafts or gifts that are never made, accruing clothes that they never wear or saving broken items that they never actually attempt to fix.
  • House Is No Longer Usable. Major parts of the home of a compulsive hoarder are unable to be utilized for their intended function. For instance, those with compulsive hoarding issues will have beds they can’t use to sleep on, kitchens they can’t cook or eat meals in and bathrooms they cannot bathe in. Also hoarders do not allow repairmen into their due to embarrassment, therefore, appliances such as refrigerators and stoves are rendered useless.
  • Clutter Causes Emotional Suffering. The clutter in the home of a hoarder may be the cause of continuous stress for the individual and of fights between family members. The accumulation of stuff may isolate a compulsive hoarder because they are embarrassed by the state of their home and do not allow family or friends over to visit.
  • Safety Risks Arise. The most disturbing part of hoarding behavior for loved ones who want to help is the potential dangers caused by the clutter in the home. Risks in the home of a compulsive hoarder include illness, fire, infection, injury and infestation.