Why people become hoarders varies from person to person, but taking the time to understand each individual can greatly improve their lives. An expert at Hoarders911, a New York based hoarders clean up company says “Hoarding is a mental condition, just like other mental conditions such as OCD”
Hoarding used to be considered a symptom of OCD, as compulsive behavior is often what causes people to hoard. Recent studies have determined that although the two are linked, Hoarding and OCD are completely separate disorders.
Even though the causes of hoarding are widely varying, it is generally agreed upon that hoarders either suffer from anxiety or depression and in some cases a combination of the two. However, even when factoring in the commonalities among hoarders the way a person began hoarding or the reason that person started can be so different from another that it is impossible to make general assumptions about anyone who might be suffering from a hoarding disorder.
It is important to note that people do not become hoarders overnight. Becoming a full blown hoarder takes time, and the cause of the hoarding can often be subtle and complex. For some, the hoarding begins as a way to cope with a devastating or traumatic event such as the death of a loved one.
Perhaps the person takes up a new hobby to help cope, but the depression of mourning causes him to simply let his hobby kit collect dust. Others might take up shopping as a way to socialize with others, never actually unpacking their bags. Many people also assign sentimental value to things they have collected, such as a family heirloom or a gift from someone no longer in their lives. These feelings combined with depression or anxiety, which make every day tasks such as tidying up or organizing the mail quite difficult, can cause clutter to become a hoard over time. The diverse explanations for why a person becomes a hoarder are partly what make the disorder so complicated.
If you are looking to help a loved one overcome a hoarding disorder, remember that each case is unique. Take time to listen and understand the causes of hoarding within that person before performing a massive cleanup. Because hoarding is linked to depression and anxiety, there is a 100% chance that pure rubbish removal will only lead to more hoarding, anger, and distrust immediately after. Instead, learning why your loved one became a hoarder can help lead you to solutions for a healthier overall lifestyle. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help. Cognitive therapy can be a quite successful treatment method for hoarders, as hoarders struggle with decision making and organization skills which are rooted in the frontal lobe of the brain. Education is an invaluable tool in treating a hoarding disorder. The more you understand about the causes of hoarding, the better you will be able to assist your loved one in recovery.