Hoarding Disorder (Compulsive Hoarding): Symptoms, Causes & Treatment


Hoarding disorder, also called compulsive hoarding is a behavioural pattern characterised by the inability or unwillingness in parting with objects and possessions. An individual with hoarding disorder finds it extremely difficult to get rid of the things he or she has collected and experienced immense distress, even at the thought of giving or throwing away the objects. The object will not necessarily have any monetary value and can result in overrunning the place of hoarding

Hoarding can affect the individual's health as collecting too many unwanted items create cramped living conditions - severely hampering a normal lifestyle. The mental condition is linked with economic burden, health risks, workplace impairment, impaired functioning, and adverse effects on friends and family members as well . It can vary from mild to severe, where the mild situation will not have any major impact on your life, however, serious cases can adversely affect the individual and the ones around them.

Individuals suffering from hoarding disorder usually do not view it as a problem, making it difficult for others to help them. According to some studies, it has been estimated that 2% to 5% of adults exhibit hoarding behaviours . Hoarding disorder can affect men and women equally, however, adults aged 55 and older are three times more likely to develop HD than younger adults. It was recently classified as a disorder in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders .

The first and foremost sign of compulsive hoarding is collecting an excessive number of items, gradual buildup of clutter in living spaces and difficulty in discarding the mostly unwanted items. The signs of hoarding disorder usually develop during the teenage to early adult years. And with age, the need to collect things for which there are no requirement or space increases. As the individual reaches middle age, the symptoms will turn severe and difficult to treat .

The behavioural pattern can develop due to various reasons. A person who is exposed to the following factors can be prone towards developing hoarding disorder .

Likewise, the condition is linked with some mental health conditions such as :

Some health practitioners link hoarding disorder with a lack of executive functioning ability. Such as having difficulty paying attention, making decisions and categorising things.

The adverse factors associated with the condition are as follows :

A doctor will be able to examine and understand compulsive hoarding through interviews with the person as well as their loved ones. They may also visit the person's home to understand the severity and risk of the situation.

Some of the ways through which medical practitioners help the individual overcome the behavioural pattern is by carrying out the following measures .

You can help the person get over this behavioural issue by lending helpful support. That is, you can stop helping the person with hoarding tendencies, encourage them to get professional help, support without criticising, and suggest about treatments that could help make a positive impact on their life.

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