Hoarding disorder is often luridly discussed on reality TV, but it’s far more complicated than just excessive clutter.
What happens beneath the surface of this mental illness? Let’s take a closer look at what causes hoarding and how people can get help.
What is Hoarding Disorder?
Hoarding is a psychological problem in which people find it extremely difficult to throw things away, no matter how unimportant those items may seem to everyone else.
This is different from collecting stamps or coins, where the collector takes pride in the organized display. For people with hoarding disorder, the accumulation of things can significantly impact everyday life.
The many pieces of the hoarding puzzle
Understanding hoarding is like solving a complicated puzzle. It appears that a mix of inherited traits, brain functioning, and personal life events contribute to this condition.
Born to hoard?
It has been observed that hoarding often runs in families. A 2014 study found that someone in the family is also more likely to hoard.
It’s like being given a deck of playing cards – these genes only increase the chances, but don’t guarantee, that you’ll become a hoarder.
Brain power and emotional toll
People with hoarding disorder often have difficulty making decisions, especially when it comes to letting go of items.
Brain studies show that certain areas of their brains become very active when asked to part with possessions. These are the same areas that help us make decisions and control our emotions.
This suggests that simply throwing things away can be a stressful and emotionally charged experience for hoarders.
Life events and emotional safety nets
Sometimes something as heartbreaking as a death in the family can trigger hoarding behavior. Some people may start collecting items as an emotional crutch, almost as if they had a fabric security blanket.
Growing up in a home full of clutter also makes you more likely to become a hoarder later in life.
Looking for solutions
Understanding hoarding isn’t just about recognizing why someone can’t let things go. It’s about putting together a complex web of genetic, emotional and environmental factors. The more we know, the better we can help.
If you or someone you know is struggling with hoarding, it is important to consult a mental health professional. They can offer strategies to effectively treat this condition.
And it’s okay to ask for help. Sometimes we all need a hand to hold, especially when it comes to something as complex as a hoarding disorder.
If you care about mental health, please read studies about it 6 Foods You Can Eat to Improve Your Mental HealthAnd B vitamins could help prevent depression and anxiety.
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