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When Does Hoarding Become A Problem, And How Can We Help Alleviate It?

Hoarding – A growing problem…

A growing problem in mental health is the condition of hoarding. Hoarding is a mental health disorder characterised by a persistent and powerful difficulty in getting rid of collected items, regardless of their value. Left untreated, this behavior can lead to a variety of damaging emotional, social, financial, and physical effects—for both the hoarder and their family members.

It is also important to distinguish between hoarding and collecting. Collectors are proud of their collections and enjoy displaying them. Hoarders, on the other hand, are ashamed.

Hoarding, like most mental health behaviors, is complex. Researchers initially thought that it was primarily connected to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and, indeed, many patients who hoard also have OCD—but not all. Hoarding can also occur in isolation, but it is more common to see a patient who hoards have at least one other diagnosed mental health condition.

Researchers and clinicians now believe that hoarding can be associated with many different types of problems. Therefore, it is very important for a mental health provider to understand each patient’s unique background in order to better home in on what may be fueling a hoarding behavior.

It may, for instance, be tied to major depression accompanied by anhedonia—an inability to experience pleasure. Such patients are unable to take care of themselves, and simple tasks seem insurmountable. Its origins also may be connected to dementia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or impulse control problems.

Treatment

Psychologist discussing a problem with her patient

Treatment approaches for hoarding should have a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) element, with exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy often being the primary CBT tool. Exposure therapy requires patients to face their fears, which can temporarily heighten anxiety. This anxiety, however, diminishes over time, and hoarders learn to be more flexible about their beliefs and belongings.

Exposure therapy means facing the painful possibility of getting rid of things and the specific type of exposure therapy employed. The intensity of the therapy varies according to each patient’s situation.

Read on to find out more about:

  • Reasons why people hoard
  • Treatments for hoarding
  • Eliminating the Stigma Associated With Hoarding

 

Remember, if you or someone you know is suffering from hoarding, you can contact us at www.facebook.com/CloudsEndCIC for help.

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