You arrive at your coworker’s place for dinner, but when you walk in the door you notice that the whole living room is covered in piles of papers, clothes, and other items. In fact, you cannot even see the carpet at all. Your coworker probably suffers from a hoarding disorder which is an anxiety condition that causes a person to hold onto items regardless of actual value. The disorder ranges from mild to severe, causing people to be unable to even eat in the home.
A hoarding disorder, which typically occurs in people as early as 13 to early 20’s, starts as a gradual buildup of clutter. Noticeable signs of hoarding disorder include:
- Excessively acquiring items that have no need in a person’s life.
- Having a difficulty and getting upset at the idea of parting with items regardless of value.
- Clutter builds up to where rooms become unusable.
- Have perfectionism and procrastination tendencies.
An excessive hoarding disorder includes:
- The consumption of items makes daily tasks extremely difficult such as eating, using the bathroom, and even showering.
- The buildup of trash makes the home unsanitary and in some cases unlivable.
- People who hoard animals put themselves and the animals at risk of various safety and health conditions.
There are various methods to treat a hoarding disorder but the main method is cognitive behavior therapy, commonly referred to as talk therapy. Through seeking a licensed therapist, a person can:
- Learn to resist the urge to store more items.
- Learn to organize and choose which items are necessary to discard.
- Improve decision-making skills.
- De-clutter the home with weekly visits from the therapist.
- Increase outdoor activity and social interaction.
Family assistance is a vital part of treatment and can help with decluttering the home. Family therapy is often required to help treat other problems associated with the disorder. Many people with a hoarding disorder suffer from other mental health issues varying from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) to depression.
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