Hoarding – When to Seek Medical Help

Hoarding is collecting items in excess and the inability to discard them. In order for it to become a disorder, the person hoarding should be extremely affected. There should be a marked decrease in the quality of life of the hoarder.

This might involve interference in the routine activities such as bathing, eating, cooking and sleeping. It might also present a risk to the hoarder’s health and safety as well as the people living with him or her. Hoarding may be associated with other disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, anorexia nervosa, dementia, and other psychotic illnesses.

According to research, those who exhibit hoarding problems can identify family members who suffer from the same disorder. Therefore compulsive hoarding can be genetic, passed from a member of the family to another.

Keeping things in a moderate degree is normal. This however can reach the extremes and develop into a disorder. Compulsive hoarding can be serious and hard to control. If left untreated, this disorder can worsen and can present risks for both the person’s health and safety and can lead to tragic consequences.

This disorder doesn’t just affect the elderly as many people think. It affects all people of all ages. Three to six million people are affected by this disorder in theUnited Statesaccording to research and this requires long term treatment. The diagnosis can be difficult though because they do not consider what they are doing as a problem.  They do not see a problem with acquiring too much things and a house full of clutter. The currently recommended approach for hoarding treatment is a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy and pharmacologic therapy.

It is not for most cases true that hoarders only keep junk. Like normal people, they may save beautiful, useful and important things or ones that have sentimental value. The only difference is that hoarders see the value of something where others do not.

Hoarders find difficulty in something others have ease in doing, discarding items. Hoarders, through time, develop a strong attachment to the items they collect making it difficult for them to throw away these things. They also experience difficulties in organizing, categorizing and decision making.

How dangerous can hoarding be? Dust, mold and mildew can be found in most clutter and can cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks. This also poses a lot of health and safety risks for the hoarder and the people living with him or her especially the elderly. The elderly have a high risk for injuries especially in falling.

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