Hoarders have an extreme habit of saving items that others consider less valuable. They find it extremely hard to eliminate or detach themselves from possessions, which often disorganise their living or work stations. If you try organising for rubbish removal, or house clearance, you may have problems with a person with hoarding disorder.
Hoarding must not be confused with collecting. Collectors gather specific items including model cars, stamps, etc, while hoarders tend to save random items and store them anyhow. For them, they save items they may need for future use or those that are of sentimental value. Some people can feel great when surrounded by things they consider valuable.
Estimates indicate that 2 to 6 percent of the population suffers from hoarding disorder, which often leads to substantial distress and other mental problems. Research indicates that more males than females suffer from this disorder. Besides, hoarding disorder is more common in older adults (55-94 years old) compared to adults of 34-44 years old.
What are the consequences?
Hoarding can have a devastating effect on an individuals’ quality of life including relationships, social activities, work and other critical areas of functioning. Some of the potential effects of serious hoarding include issues such as; safety concerns, dangers from fire out-breaks, tripping hazards, and more. Since hoarders do not entertain house clearance or rubbish removal, it can cause family conflicts, isolation, and loneliness. Beyond that, hoarders may not allow anyone to enter the home. Hoarders can also find it extremely difficult performing essential tasks such as cooking, washing, or bathing.
Diagnosis of hoarding disorder
As mentioned above, hoarders find it extremely difficult to eliminate items that others consider worthless. They need to save items and often suffer from distress associated with rubbish removal. Individuals with hoarding disorder exhibit symptoms that make them persistently store numerous items that congest and disorganise their living areas and working spaces. It can often become a challenge for a hoarder to effectively use these hoarded items easily over time.
Here are some of the main symptoms for a hoarding diagnosis:
- Hoarders have consistent problems with rubbish removal, or even simply donating their possessions to those who may have a clearer need for them.
- Their perceived need to store items anyhow leads to distress associated with eliminating the items.
- The huge possessions often fill up, block, and disorganise active living and operating areas. To make it worse, you’ll encounter problems with hoarders when trying to de-clutter the living spaces because of the huge amount of items.
- Hoarding leads to immense distress or issues within your social settings, work, or daily tasks like ensuring a safe environment for them and others.
How to assess hoarding disorder
Various questions may be raised during the assessment of hoarding, including:
- Are you having problems with house clearance (selling, donating, or recycling items) which most people would do?
- Because of the extreme possession of items, that have caused clutter, is it difficult to use the active living areas?
- To what length do you go to when buying items or acquiring things you deem valuable, and which you don’t need or even accommodate easily?
- How much does hoarding, acquisition of items affect your daily functions and other things?
- Do these symptoms distract you from school, work, or family? If so, to what extent?
- How much distress is associated with these symptoms?
Sometimes, mental health specialists seek permission to deliberate with friends, family, to make a diagnosis for hoarders. Also, they can use questionnaires to help them assess the difficulty with how they operate.
Some hoarders understand and acknowledge their attachments with possessions while others may not see it as an issue.
Besides the distress associated with rubbish removal or house clearance, and the perceived need to accumulate more items, many hoarders have other problems such as; perfectionism, indecisiveness, disorganisation procrastination, and distractibility. These characteristics heighten their problems and make it extremely difficult to function.
Other hoarders love acquiring large numbers of animals which they can often keep in inappropriate places, leading to unhealthy and unsafe conditions for the animals’ survival. Most hoarders undergo other mental complications such as depression, alcohol use disorder, attention deficit, and anxiety disorders.
Hoarding is an associated mental disorder that requires medical attention and diagnosis. It often leads to the accumulation of many items that disorganise and interfere with daily functions. Some of the associated mental problems include depression, attention deficit, anxiety disorders, and more. Mental health professionals can seek permission from family and friends, or use questionnaires to assess the level of difficulty with rubbish removal or house clearance. This helps them to narrow down their diagnosis approach. However, it’s not advisable to stigmatise individuals with hoarding as you may make it worse.