Some popular new tv shows let viewers into the homes of hoarders. These hit shows, found in different forms on different networks, bring to light a not so well-known type of addiction.
Compulsive hoarding is defined as the excessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them. People who hoard do so for a variety of reasons. Some people seem to be genuinely afraid that they will be in need some day and will have to have these things. Others are sure their items will have more value in the future. Still other people cling to material things because of the significance they hold from loved ones or certain times in their lives.
Types of Hoarding
Not all hoarders look the same. Some people are able to function outside their home, holding down a job while their house looks like a garbage dump. Other people lose their ability to work or fit in with society and find themselves remaining in their mess day after day. Some people hoard only certain items, like books or cds. One group of hoarders collects animals. A hoarder that keeps cats, for example, will have hundreds of cats in their house. The irony in hoarders lives is that they keep things or animals to protect them or keep them from being thrown out, but they can’t possibly take care of all that they hoard. The result is that the material items get junked and animals become sick and neglected.
Dangers of Hoarding
We may all know someone who can’t seem to throw anything away, or whose house is a cluttered mess. But real hoarding affects a person’s life, their emotions, their thoughts, and their behaviors. Compulsive hoarding is emotionally harmful because it controls someone’s life and thoughts. But it is also physically harmful because houses of hoarders are often unsafe. Bacteria, rodents, and fire hazards are just some of the dangers present in a hoarder’s house.
Treatment Options for Compulsive Hoarding
In severe cases, treatment is necessary, and it can be a difficult path to take. Therapy is usually needed to help the person see beyond their stuff and to realize they have a problem. In some cases, medications like anti-depressants become necessary to manage the disorder.
Along with treatment comes the daunting task of cleaning out the hoarder’s house. This is sometimes left to family members and loved ones to tackle, but a professional can also help with the process. The patient will often be asked to help clean out the house, as a way of releasing the control of the possessions. Even with a clean house, it will be a struggle for a person suffering with a hoarding disorder to keep from filling the house up again. Continued treatment is recommended to help these people live normal, healthy lives.