What is Hoarding?

A Comprehensive Look At The Hoarding Condition

What Is Hoarding?

Compulsive hoarding is a mental health condition whose sufferers display a tendency to stockpile large quantities of objects in which their perceived value far exceeds their true worth.  Hoarders develop an emotional attachment with every item in their living space, becoming physically and emotionally unable to remove or discard them.  Typical hoarded objects in are boxes, newspapers, magazines, documents, clothing, collectibles, food, garbage, and even animals and reptiles.

The Dangers of Hoarding

The hoarding condition can cause a variety of debilitating issues that range from physical, mental, emotional, and social damage.  Living in a hoarded home can also cause financial strain in a number of ways.

Physical Dangers of Hoarding

What is Hoarding

Immediate physical dangers of hoarding large quantities of items include fire and structural hazards such as dilapidation due to neglect.  Stacks and piles of hoarded items often collapse on top of the hoarders themselves.  The injuries that occur range from severe to fatal.  Professional hoarding cleanup service providers have seen an increase in reported cases of deceased hoarders who have been trapped beneath collapsed piles of hoarded objects.

Other physical dangers include a plethora of health hazards.  Biohazards like feces, urine, vomit, blood, and other bodily fluids are often found in a hoarded home due to neglect of the property.  This is especially true in cases of animal hoarding.  The presence of biohazards can spread infectious diseases that can be fatal.

Also, rodents, wild animals, and other vermin are usually attracted to hoarded homes due to the neglectful nature of hoarders.  These vermin are carriers and spreaders of disease which can infect inhabitants of the home in fatal doses.

Mental and Emotional Dangers of Hoarding

The mental and emotional implications of the hoarding condition are just as dangerous as the physical threats.  Mental and emotional stress can easily manifest themselves into physical ailments.  Symptoms from muscle spasms to migraines to panic attics can be associated with stress and anxiety.

One of the most common questions about hoarding is, “If hoarders choose to live this way, what right do they have to feel stressed?”  What most people do not understand is that hoarders constantly subject themselves to unnecessary amounts of stress.  Hoarders constantly worry about how untidy and unclean their home is.  Hoarders constantly worry about not being able to find items in their hoard, accidently losing one or more of their possessions, and deciding what to and not to throw away in the trash.

Hoarders also live in constant worry over others discovering their condition.  A person who struggles with hoarding will go out of their way to avoid talking about their home.  The stress of this particular topic leads directly into the next danger, social anxiety.

Social Dangers of Hoarding

It is commonplace for hoarders to distance themselves from all family, friends, and co-workers due to their condition.  Even though hoarders find it impossible to change their living situation, embarrassment and humiliation are strong feelings to ignore.

Hoarders will turn away visitors and never invite friends or family over.  In some instances, hoarders will even neglect and ruin relationships with those who are close to them on purpose just so they will never have to subject them to their hoarded home.

Loneliness causes depression.  Depression causes stress and anxiety.  Stress and anxiety cause physical ailments that could ruin a person’s life.

Financial Dangers of Hoarding

Compulsive Hoarding

People suffering from the hoarding condition generally spend more money on common items than a person who does not suffer from the condition.  Hoarders will spend money collecting items they will never find use for.  They will also spend money replacing things that have become lost amongst the mounds of objects that have overtaken their home.

Financial burdens also arise when an unkempt home causes disruption in the community.  The most common offense occurs when hoarded objects spill onto adjacent properties forcing neighbors to sue.  Property neglect is also common, as municipalities will regularly fine or ticket a hoarded home that has become unkempt and unclean.  Also, there have been cases reported of foul odors so repulsive that communities take legal action against hoarders to address the cause of the disruptive smell.

How to Get Help

Hoarders and their helpers must first acknowledge that the problem exists in order to handle it efficiently.  Once this happens, a bond of trust must be forged in order for all parties involved in the recovery effort to see the project through to completion.  A multitude of resources are available via Address Our Mess for hoarders and their helpers to educate themselves on the condition and how to get a fresh start on the road to a happier, healthier life.

Sun, 08/04/2013 - 15:07 by Kenneth Donnelly