Thanks to media attention, many people are familiar with the idea of hoarding. But it’s also a condition that is often misunderstood, especially when it happens to you or someone close to you.
If someone you or someone you know needs help with hoarding, contact our team at Long Island Psychology today for more information about how to treat it.
What is Hoarding?
Hoarding is the unwillingness or psychological inability to get rid of items that have little to no value. Typically, a person that suffers from hoarding feels as though if they throw something away or get rid of something, it will cause them some personal loss, so they keep the items they’re hoarding indefinitely and feel psychological distress by the idea of getting rid of it.
Unlike collections of items that have value, a person that struggles with hoarding typically keeps items that are only valuable to them – although some people do purchase items that they then hoard, complicating the situation. For example a person may hoard:
- Family Valuables
Though harmless at first, over time, these items start to build up in quantity, until they become clutter. Hoarding becomes a more significant problem when that clutter starts to fill up spaces that are needed for the home, and eventually make it harder to take care of the house.
However, paperwork and family items are not the only things people hoard. Some people find themselves hoarding:
- Food Scraps, and More
Because these items are larger and already have the ability to attract pests and bacteria, hoarders that maintain these items may find themselves quickly overwhelmed by trash, insects, rodents, and more. With those that hoard pets, it’s not uncommon for their to be pet feces and urine all throughout the home.
Why Do People Hoard?
Hoarding is believed to be related to obsessive compulsive disorder, and usually – although not always – occurs after a stressful event or loss. For those that experience a trauma, the hoarding behavior is caused by a belief that something could be important later, and they’re afraid if they get rid of it now they may forget it or need it. This is part of the reason it can be more common in seniors, who may have lost someone close to them.
Still, trauma does not need to occur for hoarding to take place. A person may instead struggle with a fear of forgetting or a fear of losing something of value, and their response is to compulsively hoard the item(s) to prevent that feeling of distress.
Treatment for Hoarding
Hoarding can be a difficult disorder, not only because of the stress and anxiety of hoarding itself but also because after a while, hoarding often becomes overwhelming, and a person may struggle to take care of themselves or their life.
But it also can respond well to treatment. If you or someone you love struggles with hoarding in the Long Island area, contact our team today to speak to one of our psychologists about a treatment plan. Remote services are also available throughout New York state for anyone interested that needs treatment and is unable to visit us in person.