By Lauren Hernandez
Hoarding is a disorder characterized by the continuous inability to get rid of belongings that have no significant value. While Hollywood has made hoarding a spectacle for consumers, hoarding is a serious condition which threatens the safety and livelihood of many people around the world. People with hoarding disorder will accumulate random items they believe they have an emotional attachment to or because they think they might need the item in the future.
Typically hoarding begins in adolescence and the severity of the condition worsens over time. The cause is still unknown, however hoarding disorder can be prompted by experience of a traumatic event, if a family member has had the disorder, or if a person has difficulty making decisions. People who hoard may suffer from depression, anxiety, or obsessive compulsive disorder. If a hoarder continuously refuses to throw items away, their home will be covered in growing piles of random objects. This poses a serious threat to their health and to the health of the people around them. The clutter inside a home often deems the house unlivable, and there is a greater risk for falling and tripping over items. In addition, there is an increased risk of fires, and mold due to rotting food and other items that are wasting away. People who hoard also typically struggle with personal hygiene which can be associated with other mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.
According to DSM-5, the following symptoms are diagnostic of hoarding disorder:
- Persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their value or lack thereof
- The difficulty in discarding possession is due to distress associated with getting rid of them
- The difficulty in discarding possession leads to clutter of living spaces and compromises the use of living spaces
- The hoarding creates clinically significant distress or impairment in functioning, including the ability to maintain a safe space
A person who hoards is unable to recognize that their hoarding activity is problematic and dangerous. If you or someone you know might have hoarding tendencies perhaps attempt to either clean the space, if it does not cause too much distress, or leave it. If attempting to clean causes too much distress, seek professional help. “The primary treatments used to relieve symptoms of hoarding disorder include cognitive-behavioral therapy and antidepressant medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). One or the other, or both, may be employed” (PsychologyToday).
If you or someone you know is engaging in hoarding activities, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .