Hoarding is defined as the act of amassing and hiding or storing away objects. As a mental disorder, it can cause a person to feel distressed when it comes to disposing of items. While many of us are aware of what hoarding is, not a lot of us know why people hoard, or what causes them to develop a tendency to hoard. Here at Clean Earth Restorations, our goal is to help hoarders on their road to recovery by taking over the cleaning and restoring of one’s home. However, we also think it is important to help educate people on why someone might develop hoarding tendencies.
Why hoarding can be dangerous
Almost all of us are hoarders on a certain level. We all know that box in the closet with unused items, the desk drawer full of cables and wires for outdated technology, the dresser drawer filled with shirts that will most likely never again be used, the garage crawl space filled with boxes of who knows what… We all tend to do a little bit of hoarding in our lives, and this is natural. A little awareness, free time, and spring cleaning tends to free up this used space. However, in more extreme cases, these drawers, crawl spaces, closets, tend to fill and begin to overflow, and the flow will eventually spill onto desks and counter tops, hallways, the floor of the garage, and begin to impede navigation of the home, making a once roomy home now feel cramped. These piles of clothes, items, and potentially forgotten food can become breeding grounds for bacteria and mold, creating an unhealthy environment. In more extreme cases the clutter can prevent safe entry and access to doors and windows, creating the potential for a fire hazard. Lastly, these living conditions can push away family members and others from wanting to be in the home.
Why someone hoards
There can be a variation of reasons as to why someone may begin to hoard items. Some might not want anything to go to waste. Others keep items because they believe that they might be needed or of use at some point in the future. For some, the items have an emotional significance about them, and might be tied to certain happy memories. It could also be that having these many items makes one feel safer.
However this is different from collecting. Collections are typically smaller and well organized and displayed. They typically aren’t cluttered or scattered about the home. However, in rare cases collecting can sometimes evolve into hoarding.
Symptoms of hoarding
Hoarding can start at a young age, and slowly progress and get worse over time. If left unchecked for a long time, symptoms can be harder to treat. Here are a few signs of hoarding one may exhibit:
- Difficulty parting with and throwing out items (regardless of value)
- Needing to save items and becoming upset at the thought of getting rid of them
- Acquiring things that aren’t needed, or that there isn’t space for
- Tendencies of avoidance, indecisiveness, procrastination, and problems with organizing and planning
- Clutter built up to the point where rooms can no longer be used
Individuals exhibiting these qualities may be suffering from additional mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
These actions can have serious consequences for the individual. Disorganization at an extreme scale can cause important items to be lost in the clutter. It can cause conflict with those trying to help the individual to remove or reduce the amount of items in the home. Trash can build up to unhealthy levels. And as mentioned before, items can block walkways and cause a safety hazard in the home.
What to do if I know someone is hoarding
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of a hoarding disorder, it is important to contact a mental health professional or a doctor as soon as possible. If the disorder is extreme to the point where it threatens the well-being and safety of those in the home, it may be appropriate to contact your local authorities (fire, police, public health, protective services, or agencies for animal welfare). This might be hard, but safety must be paramount in these situations. Some communities have outreach programs specifically meant to deal with hoarding situations. Here at Clean Earth Restorations, we want to help with the road to recovery. For more information on hoarding and hoarding cleanup and restoration services, give us a call at 888-471-6653, or visit our website at cleanearthrestorations.com.