What is Hoarding?

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What is Hoarding Disorder?[edit]

"Diagnostic Criteria from Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , Fifth Edition (DSM-V)

  1. Persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value.
  2. This difficulty is due to a perceived need to save the items and to distress associated with discarding them.
  3. The difficulty discarding possessions results in the accumulation of possessions that congest and clutter active living areas and substantially compromises their intended use. If living areas are uncluttered, it is only because of the interventions of third parties (e.g., family members, cleaners, authorities).
  4. The hoarding causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (including maintaining a safe environment for self and others).
  5. The hoarding is not attributable to another medical condition (e.g., brain injury, cerebrovascular disease, Prader-Willi syndrome).
  6. The hoarding is not better explained by the symptoms of another mental disorder (e.g., obsessions in obsessive-compulsive disorder, decreased energy in major depressive disorder, delusions in schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder, cognitive deficits in major neurocognitive disorder, restricted interests in autism spectrum disorder).

Specifiers include:

  • With excessive acquisition
  • With good or fair insight
  • With poor insight
  • With absent insight/delusional beliefs"

From: DSM-5®—Understanding Mental Disorders

What is the difference between Clutter, Hoarding and Collecting?[edit]

"What are the differences between hoarding disorder (HD) and clutter, collecting, and squalor? Simply collecting or owning lots of things does not mean someone has HD. A major feature of HD is the disorganized nature of the clutter — in most cases, the living spaces can no longer be used for everyday living as they were intended. Moving through the home is challenging, exits are blocked, and normal routines within the home are difficult.

Thus, while it’s common for our homes to get messy and/or cluttered at times, this is not the same as having HD. Similarly, being a collector of items does not mean a person has HD." - From: About Hoarding from International OCD Foundation (IOCD)

There are multiple levels of Hoarding, but no matter the size and depth of the clutter or hoard, the same steps and approaches can help with improving our living conditions. There are the basic approaches, and there are lots of tips. Choose the parts and pieces that work and set aside the ones that don't. Keep whatever works for you!

Do we have some clutter? Are our collections out of control? Are we "hoarders"? Do we have "hoarding tendencies"? It may not always be necessary to "label" ourselves - because many of the tried and true solutions can work for all of us.

10 Things You Should Know About Compulsive Hoarding[edit]

From: https://psychcentral.com/lib/10-things-you-should-know-about-compulsive-hoarding/

  1. Compulsive hoarding affects approximately 700,000 to 1.4 million people in the US.
  2. Compulsive hoarding is often considered a form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) because between 18 and 42 percent of people with OCD experience some compulsion to hoard. However, compulsive hoarding can affect people who don’t have OCD.
  3. The OCD Collaborative Genetics Study reported that genetic linkage findings are different in OCD families with and without hoarding behavior, suggesting that a region on chromosome 14 is linked with compulsive hoarding behavior in these families and that hoarding is a distinct genetic subtype of OCD.
  4. The compulsion to hoard often starts during childhood or the teen years, but doesn’t usually become severe until adulthood.
  5. Hoarding can be more about fear of throwing something away than about collection or saving. Thinking about discarding an item triggers anxiety in the hoarder, so she hangs on to the item to prevent angst.
  6. Many hoarders are perfectionists. They fear making the wrong decision about what to keep and what to throw out, so they keep everything.
  7. Hoarding often runs in families and can frequently accompany other mental health disorders, like depression, social anxiety, bipolar disorder, and impulse control problems. A majority of people with compulsive hoarding can identify another family member who has the problem.
  8. Compulsive hoarders rarely recognize their problem. Generally, only after the hoarding becomes a problem with other family members is the problem discussed.
  9. Compulsive hoarding can be difficult to control. It is usually treated in the same way OCD is. However, compulsive hoarding doesn’t usually respond as well as other kinds of OCD.
  10. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) may be more effective for compulsive hoarding than medications, especially when it involves a therapist going into the home of the hoarder and helps her to develop habits and a consistent behavioral program to try to de-clutter her home, car, and life.


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