Serious Talk: Is Hoarding a Mental Disorder?
Hoarding is characterized by a compulsive urge to gather insignificant and irrelevant things and the inability to part with the objects.
Hoarders typically collect old newspapers, books, broken appliances, clothes, junk paper, and animals. They are isolated from the social world and slowly begin to pull away from normal activities like cleaning their living space and taking out the trash.
Is It A Mental Disorder?
According to the Canadian Psychological Association, hoarding is a mental disorder associated with compulsive behavior that affects hoarders and their family members.
It is believed to be interconnected with other mental disorders like social anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADD).
Hoarding can be a symptom of other underlying mental illness like dementia, alcohol abuse, schizophrenia, learning disability, and autism. It hinders your ability to organize your life, look after yourself and makes you lose interest in daily activities.
Many research studies point to the relationship between hoarding and mental health. A 2012 study found that hoarding has physical, mental, and socio-economic consequences that affect the quality of life. It concluded that single and unemployed people were more likely to be hoarders living in poor socio-economic conditions.
Another study conducted in 2016 set out to understand the link between hoarding and emotional reactivity. The part of the brain that controls emotions showed greater reactivity when faced with the idea of getting rid of things. It was found that people had more difficulty in parting with things. They develop an emotional attachment to the clutter they collect.
OCD VS Hoarding Disorder
Hoarding disorder comes under the umbrella of OCD. There may be similarities between the signs and symptoms, but both disorders are unique.
Obsessive, repetitive, and intrusive thoughts trigger anxiety and, in the case of hoarding, the patient is preoccupied with relentless thoughts about their possessions. These thoughts are not triggered unless faced with the prospect of losing the possessions.
The acquisition of items results in a pleasurable feeling for hoarders while people with OCD face a compulsion that does not necessarily induce satisfaction. Hoarders believe that their behavior is sensible and normal while people with OCD often recognize their impulses as interfering with their normal living.
Personality Traits Associated With Hoarding
Many hoarders share negative personality traits that further exasperate their symptoms and behavior.
The brain responses in hoarders and non-hoarders are different especially when making decisions that require self-control, and while processing visuals. Hoarders are more likely to experience anxiety, indecisiveness, and poor sanitization skills.
This goes to show how obsessive-compulsive behavior is linked with OCD. Every 1 in 20 people with OCD tendencies is likely to face a problem with hoarding.
Diminished Quality Of Life
As a consequence of their compulsive behavior and mental disorder, hoarders face lack of functioning space. They tend to live in unhealthy environments with piles of junk restricting their movement.
Broken appliances, pest infestation, poor indoor air quality, fire hazards, safety violations, and unsanitary living conditions are a few of all the detrimental consequences of hoarding disorder.
The first step towards getting better is to accept that you have a medical condition.
You will need medical help from doctors and psychologists to manage your hoarding behavior. A combination of pills and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are effective treatments.
Moreover, professional cleaners are required to declutter your life and get rid of the junk.
Our junk removal services offer a custom cleaning process to help hoarders deal with the emotional distress triggered when watching their personal possessions being taken away.