Hoarding is the difficulty of throwing away items even if they have no financial value. It is the emotional attachment and the distorted thought that the item may be useful one day. The individual may feel distress when thinking about letting items go and as a result of that, lots of useless items accumulate even if there’s no space to store them. Hoarding may lead to living in cluttered and cramped conditions, while more dangerous scenarios include hoarding pets and not providing sufficient care for them.
People who hoard usually have no space at home – where typically every storage area and surface is filled with mostly unnecessary things, which may spillover to the outside of the house. Hoarding does not have a specific cause but genetics, certain types of brain activity and stress may contribute to this behavior. Symptoms of hoarding include:
• Difficulty letting go of any possessions.
• Feeling attachment to items.
• Unable to use the kitchen or bathroom or any other rooms in the house due to excessive possessions.
• Letting food or trash build up around the house.
• Limited social interactions
• Feeling shame or embarrassment.
Hoarding is not similar to collecting. When people collect stamps, comic books or other valuable items, it doesn’t cause distress or impairment in everyday life. Some risk factors for developing hoarding include:
• Age- Hoarding is more common amongst older adults.
• Personality- If someone is indecisive, they may be prone to saving useless items.
• Family- Genetics plays a role in whether an individual will develop hoarding disorder.
• Stress- A stressful life- event may trigger the development of hoarding behavior.
While hoarding disorder seems to be harmless, there are many complications that can put someone’s life at risk:
• Unsanitary conditions leading to health risks.
• Fire hazard
• Family problems
• Inability to function normally.
• Social isolation.
When assessing symptoms of hoarding, it may lead to the diagnosis of other disorders such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Depression or Anxiety, since some symptoms and behaviors of these conditions overlap. Treatment usually includes psychotherapy, specifically Cognitive Behavior therapy which has been proven to be a successful long-term treatment. Medication may also be used but it will only benefit in the short term. Usually SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are used, which are commonly used to treat depression and anxiety disorders.
A Ted talk done by Journalist Graham Hill, claimed, “less is equal to more”. Having less stuff might lead to more happiness. Excessive buying of items results in credit card debt, environmental footprints and stress. He laid out three rules in order to edit out the unnecessary things from our lives:
1. Edit ruthlessly
2. Think small
3. Make multifunctional.
To listen to the Ted talk click on the link bellow: