Do you know someone who has persistent difficulty in discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their value?
Perhaps this difficulty has led to clutter or congestion in active living areas, and is causing significant distress within the home or work environment.
It could be that they have developed a hoarding disorder.
Characteristics of Hoarding Disorder
- Excessive Acquisition: The individual has difficulty in discarding possessions, which is accompanied by the excessive acquisition of items that are not needed (or there is a lack of space for the items).
- Distress: The individual with a hoarding disorder will purposefully save items, and experience distress when faced with the possibility of discarding items.
- Quantity: Individuals living with a hoarding disorder accumulate large quantities of items that fill up living areas – to a point where the intended use for that area becomes impossible (DSM V, 2013).
Other characteristics commonly associated with hoarding behaviour include:
- Difficulty planning or organising tasks;
Hoarding behaviour appears to start early in life and spans late into life. As children, the hoarding behaviour is generally quite noticeable as children and adolescents typically do not control their living environment. Hoarding behaviour may start to interfere with an individual’s daily function between the ages of 11 years and 15 years.
By the age of 30, the hoarding behaviour may have reached clinical levels, presenting significant impairment to their daily function. For some individuals the hoarding behaviour waxes and wanes, however the chronic nature of the disorder generally shows increased severity in hoarding behaviour with every decade of life (DSM V, 2013).
There are a number of risk factors contributing to hoarding behaviour. These include:
- Temperament: indecisiveness is a prominent feature of hoarding behaviour.
- Environment: Past trauma may precede the onset of hoarding disorder, or exacerbate it.
- Genetic and Physiological factors: Hoarding disorder is familial, with approximately 50% of individuals who hoard reporting that they have a relative who engages in hoarding behaviour.
What is the impact of a Hoarding Disorder?
- Disruption to daily activities (cooking, cleaning, sleeping, personal hygiene).
- Safety issues whereby faulty appliances or services (eg electrical, water, heat) are unable to be accessed or serviced.
- Intimate and family relationship may experience strain and stress.
- Poor physical health.
- Possible eviction and homelessness.
If you know somebody that has a hoarding disorder, we can help. At Vision Psychology our mental health professionals are trained in a range of cognitive and behavioural strategies to help individuals manage stress, anxiety, overcome barriers to achieving their goals, and bring about meaningful changes in their lives.
To make an appointment try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422.
American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. pp. 247-251.