Hoarding: Understanding the Disorder and How to Help

Hoarding is a serious disorder but one for which help is available. Hoarding is the act of excessively saving items that are generally considered worthless. People who are compulsive hoarders experience great difficulty and distress when asked to dispose of or give away possessions. This leads to a disruption of a person’s ability to conduct daily life.

With the proper steps, hoarders can overcome their struggle. 

Help for Hoarding

It is strongly recommended that hoarders seek psychiatric help. There are, however, a few strategies* that you or a loved one may prepare in treating a hoarding compulsion:

  1. Challenge the hoarder’s thoughts and beliefs about keeping items.
  2. Refuse to allow the hoarder to purchase or pick up new items.
  3. Clean the home, removing all clutter.
  4. Find and join a support group.
  5. Develop a plan for the future.

If you believe that you or a family member may suffer from hoarding, which is often a symptom of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, you can refer to the American Psychiatric Association for a series of questions to identify hoarding tendencies.

You may also refer to the links and resources of the International OCD Foundation to receive further help.

hoarding help

A Closer Look at Hoarding

Hoarding, like most compulsions, is a disorder. It has real consequences for both mental and physical health. This illness can impair all aspects of daily life and interaction, which can adversely affect their social life and employment status. These issues do not address the physical hazards hoarding creates, such as fire and health code violations. Hoarders may also have strained relationships with family and friends, feel isolated and mocked, or refuse to let guests into their home.

Here are a few key symptoms and behaviors of hoarding:

  • Negative feelings caused by possessions: overwhelmed, embarrassed.
  • Profound indecision for categorizing or organizing possessions.
  • Irrational, obsessive thoughts, such as extreme fear of running out of an item.
  • Debilitating anxiety when asked to discard possessions.

A person hoards because he or she identifies a future need of an item, assigns great value to an item, or believes an item is too rare and unique. Some people confuse hoarding with collecting; however, there is a very distinct difference. Collectors take pride in displaying their possessions and enjoy conversing about them; they also keep organized, are able to manage their time and money, and can manage giving items up for sale or discard. 

The Consequences of Hoarding

The effects of hoarding vary in severity. Most hoarders suffer from a coupling of financial hardship and interpersonal relationship failures. These people are subject to eviction, court orders, and hospitalization. Many suffer from health problems as a result of the clutter, and they are in constant danger of structural damage to the home and fire.

It is also possible for a death to occur as a result of hoarding. There are domestic news stories about hoarding as well as international stories of this kind of tragedy.

Professional Help for Hoarding

If hoarding has caused the unattended death of a family member or friend, you don’t have to compound your grieving with the task of cleaning the scene. This can be a harrowing and difficult task for many to attempt, and it is best to have a professional company perform this for you.

Aftermath offers a comprehensive cleaning service for the unfortunate circumstances for loss of life, including unattended death. What differentiates our team is the care and compassion we demonstrate toward you and your loved ones during such tribulations. We are here to assist you in getting on the road to recovery.