Do you have a habit of storing non-essential items? You should be aware that you may have Hoarding Disorder.

beware hoarding disorders
Photo by Nick Fewings

What’s that? Hoarding disorder is a condition in which a person hoards non-valuable items. The reason behind this could be that they believe these goods will be beneficial in the future, that they will remind them of an event, or that they will feel safe when they are surrounded by these items.

People with hoarding problems frequently store a large number of, such as newspapers or magazines, household items, and even soiled or broken clothing. Because it is crammed with stuff they hoard, the living quarters are cramped.

Hoarding disorder can be difficult to treat. This is because many sufferers do not realize that their behaviour is problematic. However, proper treatment can help people with hoarding confusion improve their quality of life.

Causes of Hoarding Disorder

The exact cause of hoarding disorder is not known. However, there are several factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing this condition, namely:

Have mental disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

  • Raised in a family that didn’t teach you how to sort things
  • Have a family who suffers from hoarding confusion
  • Ever been abandoned by a loved one
  • Loss of property due to fire

Symptoms of Hoarding Disorder

Finding and storing items in excessive quantities is an early symptom of hoarding disorder. These symptoms usually first appear in adolescence or early adulthood.

In addition to the above symptoms, people with hoarding confusion also show the following signs and symptoms:

  • It’s hard to throw away unnecessary items
  • Feeling anxious when you want to throw away things you don’t need
  • Difficult to make decisions
  • Look for other objects from outside the house so they can be buried
  • Feeling anxious or depressed when someone else touches their property
  • Storing things until it interferes with the function of the room at home
  • Forbid others to clean their house
  • Keep away from family and friends

Diagnosis of Hoarding Disorder

hoarding disorder of book
Photo by Dim Hou

To diagnose hoarding disorder, the doctor will ask questions about your medical history and habits of obtaining or storing goods. Doctors can also ask the patient’s condition to those closest to him and ask for a picture of the patient’s house.

Next, the doctor will use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria to diagnose hoarding disorders. Some of the criteria that indicate hoarding confusion are:

  • Difficulty getting rid of objects that are not used
  • The feeling of always storing or hoarding a lot of things
  • The patient’s residence is full of objects that can endanger the safety and health of the occupants
  • Objects that are piled up cause problems in the environment, social relations, and work
  • Hoarding habits are not related to other health problems, such as brain injury, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or Prader-Willi syndrome

Treatment of Hoarding Disorder

Hoarding confusion can be treated with psychotherapy and medication. Here is the explanation:

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioural therapy, can be used to relieve symptoms of hoarding disorder. In this therapy, the doctor will train the patient to resist the urge to hoard items and learn to dispose of the piled up items.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy is also assisted by family members or people living in the same household.

Medicines

Doctors may prescribe medication if the patient suffers from other mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety disorders. Medications that are usually prescribed are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants.

In addition to undergoing treatment, you can take the steps below to help the recovery process:

  • Make a list of objects in the house and select the ones that are still in use or need to be thrown away
  • Dispose of objects that accumulate and are not used at home, at least 5 types of objects per day
  • Donate items that are fit for use to people in need
  • Put a trash can in every room, such as the bedroom, living room, and kitchen
  • Make a schedule of what activities must be done every day
  • Compare photos of the room before and after cleaning, to see your achievements
  • Try to make a decision quickly whether to keep an item or not
  • Take advantage of technology, such as watching videos or storing photos on your phone, to reduce the tendency to pile up stuff

Complications of Hoarding Disorder

Hoarding disorder that is not treated properly can reduce the sufferer’s quality of life and cause other problems, such as:

  • Risk of falling or being hit by buried objects
  • Stuck in a tight room
  • Risk of being involved in conflict with family or people around
  • Isolated from the surrounding environment
  • Health problems because the environment is not clean
  • Decreased work productivity
  • Fire

Prevention of Hoarding Disorder

As mentioned above, the cause of hoarding disorder is still unknown. Therefore, it is not yet known how to prevent this condition. However, if hoarding disorder is related to a mental disorder, then the mental disorder needs to be treated early to reduce the risk of worsening of hoarding disorder.