7 Things about compulsive hoarding

Hanging onto every one of your video-games or all the birthdays cards you’ve ever been given doesn’t make you a hoarder: most people like to keep things that hold some sentimental value, it’s perfectly normal. But if you placing as much value on a newspaper ad insert dating back to 2003 as you do on your car, you may be getting into dodgy territory. Here are some things you need to know about hoarding:

  1. While compulsive hoarding is often considered a form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, compulsive hoarding can affect people who don’t have OCD.
  2. Hoarding may not be so much about collecting or saving, but more about fear of throwing something away. Even thinking about discarding an item can trigger anxiety in hoarders, so they keep items to prevent these intense emotions.
  3. The compulsion to hoard may start during childhood or adolescence, but doesn’t usually become severe until adulthood.
  4. Hoarders are often perfectionists, and the fear of making wrong decisions about what to keep or throw away can leave them frozen with indecision. They simply opt to keep it all – in case.
  5. Hoarding often runs in families and can frequently accompany other mental health disorders, like depression, social anxiety, bipolar disorder, and impulse control problems. A majority of people with compulsive hoarding can identify another family member who has the problem.
  6. Compulsive hoarders rarely recognize their problem. Generally, only after the hoarding becomes a problem with other family members is the problem discussed.
  7. Compulsive hoarding is usually treated in the same way as OCD, but compulsive hoarding doesn’t usually respond as well as other kinds of OCD. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) may be more effective for compulsive hoarding than medications, especially if a therapist goes into the hoarder’s home, helping to de-clutter and learn new habits with a behavioural programme.
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If this is you, or someone in your family, don’t panic. Speak to your doctor about the issue, as there are various ways to manage hoarding behaviour.