Compulsive hoarding or buying is a type of obsessive compulsive disorder. Like other types of compulsive behaviors, hoarding is an impulsive behavior that can affect individuals who do not know how to control their spending patterns. Compulsive hoarders are people who are excessively buying things they don’t really need. Hoarding becomes a behavioral problem when there is excessive clutter in one’s house or living space due to the accumulation of items. Cluttered space may cause problems such as health and safety issues.
Compulsive hoarding may be caused by many factors. Some people are reluctant to throw away or give up the things they have even if they are rarely used. This behavior leads to slow build-up of clutter. Hoarders may feel emotionally attached to objects they already have in their home. They experience anxiety and stress when they think about giving away those things which they think have sentimental value. The only way to stop the anxiety is to simply keep the things they want.
Treatment and Therapy
Getting help with hoarding can be done by consulting a professional therapist. Hoarding treatment for may be a combination of exposure therapy, psychotherapy and medication. In psychotherapy and exposure therapy, compulsive hoarders will work with therapists to control the compulsive behavior of hoarding.
Practicing new ways to react to the compulsion will help with hoarding problems. When individuals feel negative feelings towards throwing things away or selling them, they are taught how to channel their thoughts into something positive. Exposure therapy often begins in one’s home. Compulsive hoarders will be exposed to the situation of reducing clutter and organization. The key in exposure therapy is to feel anxiety without giving in to saving or keeping things. Patients must learn how to overcome these feelings to help with hoarding compulsions. Learning to let go of unused and unwanted items is a primary goal of therapy.
Another way to get help with hoarding is to practice systematic organizing and filing. Compulsive hoarders are taught how to organize things and de-clutter their homes. The things that they don’t need should be thrown away, donated or sold at garage sales. It’s important to arrange and organize the things one has on a regular basis to keep unused items from piling up.
Organizing can be done to help with hoarding problems by putting things in a designated area such as plastic boxes or containers. File only important documents and papers in folders with proper headings. Hoarders are also advised to buy only things that they really need. There is no reason to hoard on things that one can buy again at some other time. This may be difficult to do at first but once the mind is conditioned to focus on the functionality of things, spending will not become a problem in the long run.
Getting help with hoarding should be done right away to avoid further complications and financial problems. It is important for family members and friends to support the compulsive hoarder in getting help with hoarding.
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