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Signs of Hoarding
No one knows what specifically causes hoarding but it’s widely accepted as a part of the obsessive compulsive disorder family. The mental disorder has been made famous by the many people featured on The Learning Channel network program, Hoarding: Buried Alive.
People who are compulsive hoarders typically have their living space (and outdoor space) filled to the rafters with stuff. And when it’s not stuff it may even be animals.
Common symptoms of hoarding include:
- Cluttered and unsanitary living spaces
- Unwillingness to discard items
- Keeping stacks of newspapers, magazines or junk mail
- Acquiring seemingly useless items
- Difficulty managing daily activities, including trouble making decisions
- Shame or embarrassment
- Excessive attachment to possessions
- Limited or no social interactions
Hoarders, as people with this condition are referred to hoard because they believe items will be needed or have value in the future, even if it’s broken or haven’t been used in years. It’s critical to understand hoarders have an emotional attachment to items that may remind them of happier times. People who hoard may report feeling safer when surrounded by the things they save.
Mr. Lamont Steptoe is a nationally respected poet and likely one of the most famous hoarders or “pack rats” since being profiled on film. The activist, Vietnam Veteran and founder/publisher of Whirlwind Press talks about the things in his life and how those things affect the people, namely his daughter.
Hoarding is not the same as collecting. Collectors categorize their items to showcase them. Hoarders, on the other hand, will save random items and store them haphazardly. Hoarding can range from mild to severe. People may need to seek out therapeutic and/or medical intervention if clutter and difficulty discarding ascends to the point where it inhibits their daily activities, health, socialization, etc.
If you or a loved one have symptoms of hoarding, talk with a doctor or mental health provider as soon as possible. Hoarding symptoms can become more severe with age.