Hoarding is often misunderstood and can be difficult to diagnose. Hoarders may feel ashamed, embarrassed, or afraid to seek help because of the stigma surrounding their problem. However, ignoring the issue will only make it worse. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most common hoarding symptoms, and how to get professional help if you or someone you know is struggling with this condition.
Common Hoarding Symptoms on Surface Level
- Refusal to Discard Items: One of the most common hoarding symptoms is the inability or unwillingness to get rid of items, even if they are no longer useful. This can result in a buildup of clutter that makes it difficult to move around or even complete essential tasks. If you find yourself or someone you know holding onto things that seem useless or unnecessary, it may be time to seek help.
- Feeling Overwhelmed by Possessions: Hoarders often express feeling overwhelmed by the number of items they have collected. This feeling can be exacerbated by the prospect of getting rid of anything, which often seems like too much to handle. As a result, hoarders can become paralyzed in their efforts to declutter, leaving them trapped in a cycle of accumulating possessions.
- Compulsive Buying or Collecting: Hoarding often starts with an innocent urge to accumulate items, but it can develop into a compulsive behavior that affects a person's psyche, social dynamic, and financial situation. Hoarders often have a compulsive need to buy or collect things (although hoarding and collecting are NOT the same) even if they don't have the space to store them or the need for the item. If you or someone you know has an uncontrollable urge to buy or keep possessions, it may be a sign of a Hoarding Disorder.
Common Hoarding Symptoms: In-Depth Issues
- Difficulty Parting with Sentimental Items: Many hoarders struggle to part with items that hold sentimental value, such as gifts from loved ones or souvenirs from special occasions. These possessions often carry emotional weight for the hoarder, making it challenging to let go of them even if they are causing clutter and chaos in their living space.
- Difficulty Making Decisions: Hoarders may have difficulty making decisions about what to do with their belongings. They may spend long periods trying to decide whether to keep, donate, or throw away items, which can make it challenging to get rid of anything. This indecision can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress, as well as a growing sense of isolation and loneliness.
- Social Withdrawal: Many hoarders begin to withdraw from social events and activities as they become more isolated by their clutter. They may feel embarrassed or ashamed of the state of their homes and may avoid inviting others over. This can lead to a further deterioration of mental health and well-being, as the hoarder becomes more and more isolated.
Potential Consequences of Hoarded Homes and How to Get Help
- Health Risks: Hoarded homes can pose serious health risks. The clutter and debris can attract insects, rodents, and other pests, which can carry diseases. Piles of items can also create tripping hazards and increase the risk of falls.
- Fire Hazards: Cluttered homes are at a higher risk of fires due to blocked exits, overloaded electrical outlets, and the presence of combustible materials. In the event of a fire, it can be challenging for emergency responders to navigate through the clutter, putting both the hoarder and their neighbors at risk.
- Financial Burden: Hoarding can also create financial burdens for hoarders. They may continue to buy unnecessary items or pay for storage units to hold their belongings, which can lead to debt and financial instability.
- Legal Consequences: In extreme cases, hoarding can result in legal consequences. Zoning laws and neighbors' complaints can lead to fines or eviction. The clutter may also violate health and safety codes, resulting in penalties or forced clean-up by authorities.
Hoarding is a complex disorder that often requires professional help. If you or someone you know is struggling with hoarding, it's essential to seek help from a mental health professional. They can provide therapy and support to address the underlying causes of hoarding behavior and develop coping strategies.
How Bio-One of Poway Can Help
Hoarding is a challenging condition, but it's important to note that it is treatable! If you or someone you know is struggling with hoarding symptoms, the first step is to seek professional help. By working with a qualified mental health professional, you can begin to address the underlying causes of hoarding and develop strategies to manage the symptoms effectively.
Additionally, Bio-One of Poway offers hoarding cleanup services to assist in the physical cleanup and restoration of hoarded homes. Our highly trained and compassionate technicians can help sort through clutter, remove hazardous materials, and restore your home to a safe and livable condition. As a Mental Health First Aid-Certified Company, we can also assist in connecting you with mental health resources to continue on the path toward recovery!