Hoarders: Why do some people find it so difficult to declutter?
A hoarder is someone who finds it extremely difficult to part with their possessions. They tend to store their things in a disorganised manner and are reluctant to declutter.
The reason behind hoarding
The most common explanation as to why people hoard is because they believe they will need their items at some stage in the future. The items can be of financial or sentimental value to the owner, which makes it increasingly difficult for them to be separated from their possessions. The reason they find it so difficult is because the thought of throwing things away brings on a great deal of stress, anxiety and distress. Their strong need to save their things overwhelms them and whilst some people realise they may be “hoarders,” many individuals have no idea and are, therefore, reluctant to seek help.
Excessive hoarding is known as a mental disorder. Many people believe it to be a symptom of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and according to Psychology Today, the International OCD Foundation estimates that “one in every 50 people struggles with severe hoarding. It’s estimated that about one in four people with OCD also are compulsive hoarders”.
Hoarding disorder is quite a serious condition and often leads to hoarders having to live in extremely cramped spaces, often unable to enter certain rooms in their own home due to the sheer mass of things stored. It has been proved that hoarding is linked to other psychological disorders including anxiety disorders, hyperactivity, depression and even alcohol abuse.
According to Psychiatry.org, “symptoms of hoarding, such as difficulty discarding items, usually start during teenage years. The average age at onset of first symptoms is 13”. The site also states that hoarding tends to be chronic, “becoming more severe over decades” and that “early recognition, diagnosis, and treatment are crucial to improving outcomes”.
The actual cause of the hoarding disorder is technically unknown, however, it is thought of by experts as being associated with brain injuries, neuropsychological performance and genetics. A traumatic experience can also trigger the condition.
There are two methods of treating a hoarding disorder. The first is through the right medication and more often than not, anti-depressants are used because they are thought to be the most effective approach to treating the disorder.
The second type of treatment is referred to as CBT, otherwise known as cognitive behavioural therapy. This is the process whereby a gradual approach is taken to help hoarders learn to “let go” of their possessions. This is thought to help reduce their need to save things whilst opening them up to the ability to dispose of items.
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Photo: Simon Scarfe