Hoarding Too Much Stuff? You May Be Sick!

Severe Hoarding (Photo Credit: Hoardingcleanup.ca)
Severe Hoarding (Photo Credit: Hoardingcleanup.ca)
Severe Hoarding  (Photo Credit:      Hoardingcleanup.ca)
Severe Hoarding (Photo Credit: Hoardingcleanup.ca)

You may not know it…. but saving too much stuff (until it becomes clutter) might in fact indicate you have a disorder called COMPULSIVE HOARDING! 

It is what some experts consider a clinical obsessive-compulsive disorder, a pattern of behavior which is characterized by excessive acquisition of objects or stuffs which people generally categorized as useless or having no value; and what most people call as JUNK,  samples of which are old newspapers and magazines, boxes, cans, clothes, decades-old accessories, anything excessive.  However, research also shows that for some people, compulsive hoarding may also be related to:

  • Impulse control disorders like impulsive buying, shopping or stealing
  • Social anxiety
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Certain personality traits

What is worse is when excessive acquisition further develops into inability or unwillingness to discard those large quantities of objects even though they are filling your home and causing undesirable consequences and dangers. Here’s another alarming research.   Further studies reflect that Compulsive Hoarding, which may affect more or less two million people in the United States alone, is often found in patients with other diseases such as Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Schizophrenia and Anorexia.  

So, unless we are able to discern if we are becoming compulsive hoarders, we might find ourselves heading towards D.A.S.A.; the seemingly obvious mental disorders enumerated above?  Oh gee!

Check yourself for symptoms:

  • Do you tend to hold onto several kinds of stuffs that most people would consider not useful or valuable?        >>>      Decades-old mail, catalogues, newspapers, cardboards, handicraft materials, old clothes, giveaways, souvenir promos, freebies, “slightly” broken things, decorative rusty cans and boxes, used gift wrappers, plastic wares, old unusable chairs and tables, etc.
  • Is your home so cluttered that several areas are inaccessible or unusable for worthy purposes?   >>>  rooms that has become like a storage attic, beds that have so many things on them that those can’t be slept in, kitchens that look so cramped with so many boxes and containers, overflowing refrigerators with rotting food inside, kitchen tables with so many items and molds, too many damaged chairs and tables pushed anywhere, old worn unusable sofas, filthy bathrooms, overflowing storage rooms with lots of boxes and rusty paint cans, clutter-filled garage.
  • Has your home been frequently visited by illness, distress and impairment due to the very messy clutter?  >>>  such that you do not invite friends and family and even repair people to your house because the clutter could make them feel awkward and uncomfortable; you keep the shades drawn so no one can look inside; you are distressed from the arguments you might be having with family members over your excessive stuff hoarding; are at risk with fire, falling, infestation or eviction; you feel depressed due to the clutter (and yet still clings to them).
There are people who have been known to have conquered this disorder through sheer will power and determination.  However, there can be no treatment unless one is able to identify and accept that there really is a problem.  Understanding the causes might help one deal with the disorder more easily, with the help of family members.
What causes compulsive hoarding:Research has it that compulsive hoarding results from problems in one or more of these areas:
  1. Processing of information, which refers to difficulties on identifying what is valuable and not, what to do with those possessions, an when people have trouble recalling where certain things are so they place them on top of drawers, table, chairs – where they can easily seen.
  2. Perspective on significance or value of possession, wherein some people feel so strongly towards some objects and become over sentimental over them; the unexplainable need to stay in control of their possessions without having anyone move or even touch their stuffs; or to associate other things with their possessions.
  3. Emotional upsets over “parting” with their possessions, feeling so anxious when they are being forced to discard or give away their stuffs, and feeling some kind of unrest until they acquire something they want.

Compulsive hoarding tendencies have been seen to start during childhood or early adolescence, but they become more severe  in adulthood and is suspected to run in families.  The emotional attachment and laying of too much sentiments on possessions, unless brought to a halt, could cause further distress and squabbles in the family.

Most often, the family members are the most bothered by the clutter because the compulsive hoarder themselves do not recognize how bad their problem really until something worst happens, like fires, falling or slipping accidents, illness from unclean conditions (remember that clutters invite rats and roaches), and other untoward incidents.

(Hurry!  Call a garage sale!)

Web Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsive_hoarding

http://www.harthosp.org/instituteofliving/anxietydisorderscenter/compulsivehoarding/default.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mental_disorders