Hoarding is the excessive accumulation of items and having difficulties discarding them. These items may be very valuable to the hoarder but considered trash by most people. Because of the volume of items kept, cramped living conditions are the usual result. Living spaces cannot be used for their intended purpose anymore because of the clutter.
Constricted pathways around heaps and mounds of clutter can be observed. People who hoard often don’t see it as a problem making hoarding treatment difficult. Hoarding treatment cannot cure but can help these people manage their lives better.
Homes of compulsive hoarders are filled with items everywhere. Signs and symptoms of compulsive hoarding may include untidy living spaces, unwillingness in discarding items, keeping seemingly useless items like trash and broken tools, poor decision making skills and time management, trouble organizing anything, unusual attachment to possessions and isolation with limited or no social interaction.
People who hoard save things because they believe they will be needed or will be used in the future. They may keep items that serve as remembrances of the past. With these possessions around them, they feel more comfortable and safer.
Clutter and difficulty discarding them are the first signs of hoarding. It may range from mild to severe. If a family member or a loved one experiences these signs, talk to a doctor and set an appointment as soon as possible.
Hoarding treatment is recommended to compulsive hoarders. If left untreated, it can lead to serious complications and threats to health and safety. Hoarding treatment includes psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy used together. Most patients respond better if both forms of treatments are used.
Psychotherapy includes cognitive-behavioral therapy. This type of therapy doesn’t just require talking about feelings and such. In this form of hoarding treatment, the therapist visits the person’s home and helps with decision making, organizing, cleaning and prioritizing.
Pharmacotherapy on the other hand involves the use of antidepressant medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, however, not everyone respond well to them. With ongoing research and professionals coming up with new forms of hoarding treatment, there are reasons to be optimistic.
Treatment is difficult for hoarders because of new adjustments. Not being in the safety of their comfort zone makes them uneasy as well. If a friend or a loved one is going through this, it is best to show support, understanding and encouragement. You should empathize with them, be willing to listen and see things on their perspective. Doing all these will eventually help them achieve their goal.
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