In 2010, TLC released a documentary titled Hoarding: Buried Alive. This documentary brought public attention to the previously unrecognized mental illness.
Despite the growing recognition and fascination of hoarding created by the show, however, not many people completely understand why someone begins to hoard. This article is aimed at creating a deeper understanding of what causes someone to start hoarding and how they can recover from it.
A hoarding disorder is an obsessive-compulsive disorder in which the suffering individual has difficulty letting go of items due to a severe emotional attachment to them. This usually results in the individual keeping so many items in their home that it makes the condition unsafe and unsanitary to live in.
The International OCD Foundation has estimated that nearly 2-6% of the population in the United States struggles with severe hoarding disorder/behavior.
What Are the Symptoms of a Hoarding Disorder?
Hoarding symptoms can be difficult to spot. Some people are actually pack rats, which means they enjoy keeping items that have deep sentimental value, regardless of its value. The difference between hoarding and being a packrat is that hoarders take things to the extreme. Hoarders find a reason to keep items that may be unsanitary such as used food containers, broken objects, or old appliances that no longer have any use. If you notice any of the following behaviors from yourself or a loved one, it could be hoarding disorder:
- The individual has difficulty or anxiety when parting with their possessions. This remains true when the item has little value.
- Due to their difficulty in discarding items, their living space becomes overly cluttered and, in the worst cases, unsafe.
- The individual feels distressed or unable to perform daily functions due to fear of getting rid of items or feeling ashamed at their current living conditions, causing them to be closed off.
What Causes Someone to Hoard?
While there is no direct cause to having a hoarding disorder, many cases find that hoarding is a result of a compulsive mechanism that was born to help alleviate anxiety or depression, or to seek condolences after a traumatic event. The more items an individual has, the more they feel shielded from the outside world or the things that are causing them to feel anxious.
Unfortunately, this notion can also have adverse effects. Most individuals suffering from a hoarding disorder agree that they feel more disconnected and isolated from loved ones. This is due to the fact that they become embarrassed by the state of their home and no longer make efforts to visit others or have people visit them.
What Makes Hoarding So Hard to Get Over?
What makes hoarding so hard to overcome is that individuals suffering from this disease often times have problems to face. The first is the mental illness or the event that led to this behavior sprouting. For an individual to get better, they have to deal with what is driving them to hoard.
Secondly, individuals also have to sever their emotional attachment to the items that they have been hoarding. This can be extremely difficult as they may have difficulty making decisions about what to get rid of. This can often lead to fear and panic for the individual, resulting in anxiety.
Often times, a professional hoarding removal team, along with counseling, may be needed to help set the individual on the path to recovery.
Red Responders Hoarding Cleanup Team
Red Responder’s Lone Star Hoarding team is experienced in dealing with properties with excessive hoarding and gross filth.
All of our services are discreet, giving your family the privacy it needs to focus on healing while our team focuses on returning your living environment to its original condition. Contact our experts today for more information on our services.