Hoarders suffer from a compulsion. Rather than being "messy", they simply cannot bring themselves to get rid of the possessions consuming their homes. This is detrimental to their quality of life and relationships. Here are 4 things you need to know about hoarders:
- Hoarding is a psychological disorder. Up to five percent of Americans are classified as hoarders, but researchers are divided on the details. Some categorize hoarding as a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Others believe that it is more closely related to ADHD, dementia, or depression.
- There are different types of hoarders. Hoarders accumulate their items in specific ways: Syllogomaniacs keep trash with little or no monetary or sentimental value; bibliomaniacs collect books, magazines, newspapers, and other literature; animal hoarders accumulate pets, rooted in a desire to be a rescuer, caregiver, or exploiter; food hoarders stock up on food that would take a decade of feasting to consume; recyclers act in a misguided attempt to save the environment; and collectors become obsessed, constantly adding more items to their collections.
- Hoarders believe that what they’re doing is normal. Even when they have little more than “goat paths” between piles of their belongings, hoarders rarely realize that they have a problem on their own. It takes loving, dedicated friends and family, and the aid of a mental health professional to assess and heal the situation. When faced with throwing away their treasures, hoarders may feel sick or experience psychological breakdowns.
- It’s a lifelong condition that peaks in adulthood. Many hoarders begin showing signs during adolescence, or even as early as childhood. However, it usually is in adulthood that hoarding gets the best of them. The average age of a hoarder receiving help is 50.
If you know someone who is struggling with hoarding, The Hoarding Project can help get them the treatment they need. As they learn to manage their disorder, we can help toss or repurpose their belongings.Image CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0, via Wikimedia Commons