Compulsive hoarding is an impulsive response that makes it extremely difficult to throw things away. The only way to fix this may be clearing the hoarded house. However before taking such a radical step, we first need to understand what compulsive hoarding is, and how doctors can treat it in a less irreversible way.
Symptoms That May Require Clearing a Hoarders House
New clients often call us to discover what compulsive hoarding is, and how doctors can treat it with talk therapy. While we are not psychologists, we do understand that uncontrolled hoarding could have severe emotional, financial, social, and even legal implications.
Inability to Focus on the Here and Now
A person who has acquired the syndrome may also experience distressing signs of being unable to make up their minds. As a result they often come across as disorganised, and placing value on piles of junk of no apparent value.
Chaotic Collections Crowding Out Living Space
Their old clothes, discarded magazines, trinkets, and even food wrappers grow progressively larger according to Medical News Today. They may completely take over living space, and even kitchens and bathrooms too until the home is no longer a fit place to live.
The person who created this collection of ceramics we found in an attic while valuing a deceased estate for probate had a tidier mind and created some order out of chaos. A compulsive hoarder on the other hand accumulates an untidy pile of unrelated jumble piled into corners.
Negative Effects on a Hoarder’s Self Concept
- Hoarders become extremely possessive over objects they accumulate to the extent these develop virtual ‘personalities’
- As a consequence of this they become over-protective of them, and resist attempts to clear their hoarded house
- However, they may also be embarrassed by being overwhelmed by things other people rate as rubbish
- This problem is exacerbated when their family does not know what compulsive hoarding actually is
Friends and family regularly fail to understand what compulsive hoarding is, and how doctors can treat it, because the person is suffering mental anguish that cloaks it. They may start considering clearing a hoarders house of the piles of rubbish at this stage.
What Compulsive Hoarding Is and How Doctors Can Treat It: The Early Signs
It’s not uncommon for the first signs of compulsive hoarding to emerge with the onset of puberty around age thirteen. However, at this stage the hoarder may appear to be little more than a rebellious teen with the deeper problem overlooked.
At this early stage talk therapy, also known as cognitive behavioural therapy may help teenagers cope better with the realization of the frailties of life and their loss of innocence. That way, they may be able to avoid the slippery slide into deep depression that is one of the hallmarks of people trapped in compulsive hoarding syndrome.
A cluttered bedroom could become an overrun home decades later if therapy does not succeed in breaking this cycle A home overcome with the unwanted detritus of living: a home begging for a compulsive hoarding clearance by specialists such as ourselves.
A hoarder’s deep depression may express itself in these signs provided by Medical News Today:
- Poor diet, poor hygiene, difficulty engaging with society
- Unsafe living environment conducive to ill-health
- General collapse of relationships with partners and friends
- Loss of employment rolling out into isolation and poverty
- Refusal to admit anybody, including debt collectors
- A once happy adult who has become a social outcast
Their clutter may become their only companion in these their lowest times. Their friends may know what compulsive hoarding is, and how doctors can treat it. However, persuading a hoarder to accept therapy is another matter, because of other mental conditions thriving side by side.
Those indirect and direct complications may include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, and other anxiety disorders that substance abuse may cloak. Healthcare professionals and behavioural therapists nowadays consider CBT as a leading positive approach.
How CBT Therapy May Open the Door to Clearing a Hoarded House
Cognitive behavioural therapy gently nudges a patient towards accepting they need to dispose of part of their hoard to render their home habitable again. This approach can help them reduce their hoarding activity, and alleviate their related anxiety and stress.
A therapist may prescribe medication as well so the patient is relaxed, and more able to exercise competent organizational and decision making skills.
Cognitive behavioural therapy is a goal-orientated treatment that helps patients solve their underlying issues. It achieves this by helping them change the behaviour and thinking behind the difficulties they are experiencing.
A compulsive hoarder, for example may discover how their excessive accumulation of stuff is masking their unresolved grief over the death of a life partner. They may be able to change their attitudes and behaviour by exposing their underlying beliefs and emotional images.
Healthcare professionals laud CBT because it tackles particular issues, and generally resolves them in less than a year. Patients can then move out and on to managing their lives better. That’s because they now know the origins of their negative thoughts behind their compulsive hoarding behaviour.
We Know What Compulsive Hoarding Is But What is the Trigger?
However, we still are not clear about what sets off the disorder according to Mayo Clinic, and leads to impossibly cramped living conditions. We don’t know the deep urge causing people to collect and hoard, although we do understand why they do so.
- Some compulsive hoarders believe their things will become valuable
- For others they may have sentimental value or seem unique and perfect
- Many however attach special value because they recall a special event
Behavioural psychologists believe surrounding themselves with these special things provides comfort to isolated, lonely people.
We Don’t What Triggers Hoarding, But We May Know How It Develops
Psychology Today confirms hoarding activity both relieves and causes anxiety too. It may therefore emerge following a severely stressful event such as loss of a loved one or suffering a severe illness. It’s apparently also more likely to kick in if the person grew up in a hoarding family.
Tips to Help You Decide If Someone You Know is a Hoarder
A compulsive hoarder of ostensibly valueless things is likely to display at least one of these signs:
- The rooms and surfaces in their home are no longer available for their intended purpose
- Things are lying higgledy-piggledy all over the place with no sign of any organization
- The clutter prevents normal functioning, but they act aggressively if you try to remove the junk
Your first task is to engage a social worker / psychologist able to lead them to the conclusion they need to get rid of enough of their stuff to be able to live normally. Then you can explain to them how Avery Associates have specialist teams dedicated to clearing a hoarders house while they are away for the day.
We wrote this post to explain what compulsive hoarding is, and how doctors can treat it. We can help by removing the clutter with the necessary consent. Call us when you are ready on 0800 567 7769, or from mobile 0208 640 00 44. Please be assured of our exemplary services at all times.