Hoarding Behaviours and Treatment Approaches
Hoarding Behaviours and Treatment Approaches
23 May 2024

A person with a hoarding disorder has an intense need to save a lot of things, whether or not they are valuable financially, and they become extremely distressed when they try to part with them. Their hoarding hampers their daily life.

Articles from newspapers, periodicals, home products, and clothes are commonly hoarded objects. Hoarding disorder sufferers occasionally amass a sizable collection of animals, many of which are not given the necessary care.

Dangerous clutter can result from hoarding disorder. There are numerous ways in which the illness may degrade your quality of life. In their social, familial, and professional lives, it can lead to stress and guilt in people. It may also result in dangerous and unhygienic living circumstances.


Is anxiousness a factor in hoarding?


Although it is included in the range of anxiety disorders known as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), hoarding disorder is a separate illness.

Hoarding was previously included as a subtype of OCD in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Diseases (DSM), the American Psychiatric Association's standard classification of mental diseases. Nonetheless, medical professionals were seeing hoarders who did not suffer from any other mental health disorders. Following additional investigation, hoarding disorder was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), fifth edition, as an independent diagnosis within the OCD spectrum.


What distinguishes hoarding from collecting, anyway?


There is a difference between collecting and hoarding things.

Collecting entails preserving particular objects, such as comic books, coins, or stamps. These would be carefully selected and usually arranged in a specific manner. This collection doesn't interfere with your day-to-day activities.

Organising things to make them convenient to use or access is not the act of hoarding. Broken toys or pieces of paper are among the things that people with hoarding disorder frequently hoard because they are inexpensive or of little worth. Their daily lives are also adversely affected by hoarding.


Who is affected by hoarding disorder?


Typically starting in adolescence, hoarding disorder progressively becomes worse as people mature, leading to severe problems by the middle of one's 30s.

Individuals over 60 years of age and those with additional mental health issues, particularly anxiety and depression, are more likely to suffer from hoarding disorder.


How widespread is hoarding behaviour?


Hoarding behavior impacts people in India and is becoming more widely acknowledged as a serious mental health problem on a global scale. Although there is a lack of precise statistics regarding the frequency of hoarding behaviors in India, studies indicate that hoarding disease is a universal problem that transcends national boundaries. In Indian societies, the expression and frequency of hoarding behaviors may be influenced by cultural elements, economical circumstances, and community views about things

. It is evident that hoarding behavior is a problem that has to be addressed and proper action taken in India, as it does in other areas of the world, even though it is difficult to pinpoint the precise prevalence.


Signs and Origins

While many hoarders do not realise the problems with their beliefs and actions, some hoarding disorder sufferers do. Hoarding symptoms are frequently linked to stressful or traumatic situations, such as divorce or the death of a loved one.

    • Those who suffer from hoarding disorder have an intense need to preserve their belongings. 
    • One of the other symptoms is the inability to let go of belongings.
    • Feeling stressed out when trying to discard things. 
    • Apprehension regarding future item needs. 
    • Ambiguity over the placement of several items. 
    • Mistrust of others handling personal items. 
    • Living in cluttered, unsuitable spaces. 
    • Removing oneself from friends and relatives. 



    A person suffering from hoarding disorder may amass items due to any of the following reasons:

      • They think something will hold value or be helpful in the future.
      • They believe a sure thing to be unique, sentimental, or irreplaceable.
      • They believe something is too good of a deal to pass up.
      • They believe something will aid their memory of a significant person or occasion.
      • They cannot decide what belongs where; therefore, they choose to preserve things rather than discard them.



      Hoarding disorder sufferers frequently struggle with cognitive functioning issues, such as indecision.

              • Perfectionism.
              • Delaying.
              • Disarray.
              • Distraction.


              These problems may significantly impact their functionality and the overall degree of hoarding disorder.


              Why does hoarding disorder occur?


              As of now, researchers have yet to discover the precise reason for the hoarding disorder. Thus far, several information processing deficiencies linked to hoarding have been documented, including problems with:

                          • Arranging.
                          • Fixing issues.
                          • Visual-spatial memory and learning.
                          • Prolonged focus.
                          • Working memory.
                          • Arrangement.


                          Hoarding disorder can be a standalone ailment or a component of another one. The mental health disorders that are most frequently linked to hoarding disorder are OCD (obsessive-compulsive personality disorder).

                                • OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
                                • ADHD stands for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
                                • Depression.


                                Researchers have found additional risk factors for hoarding disorder, which may increase your chance of developing the disorder. These factors include:

                                              • Having a hoarding disordered relative.
                                              • Brain damage.
                                              • It was a terrible incident in life.
                                              • Impulsive purchasing patterns.
                                              • Unable to resist taking advantage of freebies like fliers and coupons.
                                              • Alcohol or substance use disorders.
                                              • Prader-Willi illness.


                                              Diagnoses and Examinations

                                              How is the disorder of hoarding diagnosed?

                                              It is rare for hoarders to seek assistance on their own. Worried friends or family frequently contact a specialist to support a loved one with the illness.

                                              If your living environment becomes unsafe or unhealthy due to hoarding, contact a mental health or healthcare expert. If you know someone who is hoarding animals, it's critical to contact the appropriate authorities, such as Animal Control Services, to safely obtain and care for them.

                                              Your healthcare physician will inquire about your gathering and saving practices to identify hoarding conditions. To validate a diagnosis, the subsequent symptoms need to be evident:

                                                I need help removing belongings, whether they have value or not.

                                                  Having a great desire to preserve things and experiencing anguish when throwing them away.

                                                    living areas that are dangerous or unusable due to their excessive stuff.


                                                    Handling and Medical Interventions

                                                    How is the disorder of hoarding treated?

                                                    To treat hoarding disorder, medical professionals employ two primary therapy approaches:

                                                      One kind of talk therapy (psychotherapy) is cognitive behavioural therapy.

                                                        Typically, antidepressant drugs are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).


                                                        Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a popular treatment for hoarding disorder. A qualified mental health practitioner, like a psychologist, can assist individuals in comprehending the reasons behind their hoarding and reducing their fear when discarding goods. Experts also impart organising and decision-making abilities. These abilities can help you better manage your belongings.

                                                        Antidepressants are prescription drugs that some medical professionals use to treat hoarding behaviour. For some people, these medications can lessen the condition's symptoms.


                                                        Avoidance

                                                        Is the hoarding problem avoidable?

                                                        The disorder known as hoarding cannot be prevented. Nonetheless, hoarding tendencies manifest relatively early in life (often between the ages of 15 and 19) and last for a long time. If you see hoarding symptoms in your child or someone you love, getting help as soon as possible is critical to improving the situation.


                                                        Prognosis / Outlook


                                                        What is the hoarding disorder prognosis, or outlook?


                                                        The prognosis for hoarding could be better. Even though cognitive behavioural therapy helps some patients significantly improve their illnesses, many patients continue to experience symptoms that interfere with their daily lives.

                                                        Individuals who suffer from hoarding disorder frequently need a usable living area, which can make it difficult for them to go about their daily lives and take care of themselves. They might also reside in dangerous or unhygienic environments. Severe hoarding can result in health code violations, fire dangers, and tripping hazards.


                                                        Relationship, social, and professional issues can also arise from hoarding disorder. It frequently results in isolation, loneliness, and family strife and disputes.

                                                        Children's social development may be impacted by hoarding.

                                                        Unlivable circumstances might result in eviction, divorce, or even the loss of child custody. State laws against animal abuse may also apply to people who stockpile animals in dangerous living situations.



                                                        How Can Samarpan Help?


                                                        Samarpan provides complete support through specialised therapy and intervention programs that cater to the requirements of people with hoarding disease, emphasising hoarding behaviours and treatment methods. Our team of highly qualified therapists provides individualised treatment programs, including evidence-based practices like exposure and response prevention (ERP), motivational interviewing, and cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). With these therapy methods, we hope to dispel false beliefs, assist clients in understanding the underlying causes of their hoarding habits, and provide them with valuable tools for managing clutter and organising their living space. Samarpan also provides community tools and support groups to offer continuous reinforcement and encouragement during rehabilitation. 

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