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Psychology| What is Hoarding Disorder? CBT Kenya
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  • Posted by: cbtkeadmin

Psychology| What is Hoarding Disorder? CBT Kenya

Hoarding is not the same as collecting. Hoarding, or, more specifically, compulsive hoarding, is characterized by two parts. The first is the accumulation of things that have little or no value. The second is the inability to part with things that the hoarder has accumulated. People with hoarding disorder excessively save items that others may view as worthless. They have persistent difficulty getting rid of or parting with possessions, leading to clutter that disrupts their ability to use their living or work spaces. It most often affects adults, though teenagers may show hoarding tendencies as well.

What causes hoarding disorder?

Hoarding disorder is not the same as collecting. Those who collect things will typically concentrate on one particular item. This item will also have some value to the collector. The collection could consist of anything, from stamps, magazines, plates etc.

  • Although the average age of a hoarder is in their 50’s, studies show that it can begin in early childhood. Many children start collections of some kind when they are young. It could be dolls, action figures, marbles, cards, even simple things like shells from a beach.
  • They get emotionally attached to an object and become inconsolable if that object cannot be found. It is known that hoarders also place an emotional value on their objects. Hoarders will keep ordinary, worthless things like a scrap of paper. This might be because it has a person’s handwriting on it.
  • Many hoarders experienced a traumatic event in their lives. Is it possible that this was responsible for triggering hoarding as a defense mechanism. Hoarding disorder both relieves anxiety and causes it.
  • Stressful life events such as losing a partner, parent or child or going through a divorce could all be triggers for a hoarding disorder. Couple this with events such as eviction from a home or the loss of possessions from a fire or burglary and the stage is set for hoarding.
  • For people with social anxiety and low self-esteem, hoarding offers a leg up the confidence ladder. Older hoarders reported that stockpiling possessions gave them a sense of pride and accomplishment.
  • If you parents were hoarders, you may also be prone to hoarding. The environment in which we grew up influences your adulthood. If you were never taught to organize and sort through material objects, you are likely to have clutter.

What are the symptoms of hoarding disorder?

Hoarding disorder can lead to dangerous clutter. The condition can interfere with quality of life in many ways. It can cause people stress and shame in their social, family, and work lives. It can also create unhealthy and unsafe living conditions.

  • Inability to get rid of possessions
  • Extreme stress about throwing out items
  • Anxiety about needing items in the future
  • Uncertainty about where to put things
  • Distrust of others touching possessions
  • Living in unusable spaces due to clutter
  • Withdrawing from friends and family

How to help someone with a Hoarding Disorder

The hardest part about hoarding disorder is that the hoarder will not want your help. They might not even think they need help. Hoarders feel anxious if told to get rid of their possessions. Therefore it is important not to spring anything on them at short notice.

  1. Talk to them gently about the situation and show them the possibilities of a life without clutter.
  2. Ask them if they would like the help of a psychiatrist or other mental health professional?
  3. Go with them to therapy if they ask to support them through their recovery.
  4. Don’t expect overnight success. It has probably taken years for the clutter to build-up. It is not going anywhere overnight.
  5. See if there are any short-term medications that would help. This, combined with counseling has proven results.

Word from CBT Kenya

If you are having any questions about whether you are a hoarder, seek the input of a mental health professional. Just being able to acknowledge the problem is one of hardest, yet most important things you can do. Hoarding can put restraints on your life, but it doesn’t have to. Many people recover from hoarding disorders. You can be one of them.

At CBT Kenya, we have friendly yet professional psychologists who are ready to have a talk with you. We encourage you to find out more about our services. We welcome any questions. Any questions related to psychotherapy, counselling, and psychology services are welcomed. Our purpose is to help you to achieve your therapeutic and life goals, to improve the quality of your life and to help you to build strong relationships in your life. Get in touch or book an appointment on +254 739 935 333, +254 756 454 585 or info@cbtkenya.org.

Author: cbtkeadmin
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