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Hoarding Disorder

What is Hoarding Disorder?

Hoarding Disorder is categorized under Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders in the DSM-V and is an illness that makes individuals feel the need to collect things. Their need is so big that over time, the individuals house may be covered with these things, their tables, their couches, or their beds to say the least. For example, an individual may have the need to collect newspapers or clothing while another individual may have the need to collect dogs or cats. Also, some individuals may have a hard time getting rid of personal belongings because they may either feel personally attached to them or they feel that they will need them someday in the future. The need that an individual needs varies from person to person. In addition, the individual may feel ashamed of their behavior and may not accept it however, they cannot control it and the idea of getting rid of an item is truly upsetting.

Furthermore, it is believed that out of 100 people, 2 to 6 of those individuals will be diagnosed or will suffer from Hoarding Disorder.

IMPORTANT NOTE: A hoarder is different from a collector. A collector is usually proud of their collections and often displays them while a hoarder feels shame in their behavior.

What are the symptoms of Hoarding Disorder?

  • An individual begins to collect many things that starts to interfere with their everyday life
  • An individual’s home is cluttered and blocked (there is barely enough space for the individual to walk through)
  • An individual may find it hard to make any decisions, plans or stay organized
  • Individual feels great distress when giving things away

What causes Hoarding Disorder?

Although the cause is not known, genetics is believed to play a huge role. Also, it has been found that many people who are diagnosed with Hoarding Disorder, have also experienced a stressful or traumatic event. In addition, individuals who suffer from Hoarding Disorder, often suffer from depression or some kind of anxiety disorder or even Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

How is Hoarding Disorder treated?

  • Counseling and/or Psychotherapy
    • An individual learns how to gradually get rid of their need without having feelings of anxiety for example
    • Individuals may learn organization, relaxation, and decision-making skills
    • An individual can learn how to resist to the urge of acquiring more items
    • An individual will learn how to categorize their items so that it is easier for them to decide what they really need
    • An individual will learn how to reduce isolation and increase social involvement
  • Medication

What can I do for myself to help cope with Hoarding Disorder?

  • Ask for help
    • This may be the hardest step, but you can start by telling a loved one (i.e. friends or family) or calling a health center. Once you do this, everything else will fall into place one step at a time.
  • Seek for a medical evaluation
    • When seeking professional help, keep the following in find:
      • Make a list of the symptoms you are feeling
      • Tell them about the challenges that you are facing
      • Share key personal information (i.e. a traumatic event)
      • Share your medical information/history
      • Have any questions ready that may help you understand yourself better and what you are experiencing
    • Follow through with the treatment that you are given (i.e. therapy or medication)
      • Therapy will help you change the behaviors and get to the root of the problem. However, it may be more of a help if your family is with you.
    • Try to keep personal hygiene and bathing
    • Ensure that you are getting proper nutrition
    • Take small steps