According to the American Psychological Association (APA), about 2% to 6% of the United States population alone lives with hoarding disorder. People frequently and mistakenly believe that hoarding behaviors are “a choice,” when in reality, this is not the case at all for people with hoarding disorder. So, what exactly is hoarding disorder, and how do you know if you have it?
About Hoarding Disorder
In the most recent version of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders or DSM, hoarding disorder is a diagnosis that exists under the category of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders alongside other disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Hoarding disorder is characterized by the persistent and ongoing hoarding of items despite their actual value. As a society, we must decrease the shame and stigma surrounding hoarding disorder and the behaviors affiliated with it to increase access to support. Hoarding disorder is treatable, and working to increase awareness while decreasing shame will help people get the support that they need.
Do You Have Hoarding Disorder?
If you have a hoarding disorder, you might recognize the following signs and symptoms in yourself:
- Difficulty discarding items despite their actual value.
- Difficulty discarding items and continuously keeping items despite the fact that the behavior is impeding on your life or functioning. For example, the items in your home may block doorways, make it hard to walk through the home, or make it difficult to access or use areas of the home, such as a sink or bathing area.
- Hoarding behaviors or difficulty discarding items that impact your interpersonal relationships. You may fight with friends or family over hoarding behaviors or the people in your life may be concerned over your difficulty discarding items.
- Excessive acquisition, which refers to continuously acquiring items. This is seen in about 80% to 90% of those with hoarding disorder. So, someone with this symptom would continuously accumulate items in addition to the behavior that hoarding disorder is characterized by, which, again, is difficulty discarding items.
In some cases, a loved one such as a friend, romantic partner, or family member might step in and clear out a person’s home, in which case hoarding may seem somewhat less noticeable. This does not mean that you don’t have hoarding disorder. Hoarding disorder can cause severe distress and can be hazardous to one’s health and safety, and it is not something to ignore in any case. Hoarding disorder often worsens with age, and if early intervention is possible, it can be a game-changer.
Diagnosis And Treatment
The only way to receive an official diagnosis of hoarding disorder is to see a medical or mental health professional who is qualified to diagnose mental disorders, such as a psychiatrist. Hoarding disorder is nothing to be ashamed of. If you have hoarding disorder or think that you might, it’s crucial to reach out to a medical or mental health professional who can help. Again, hoarding disorder is a treatable condition. Mental health therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) are the most common and effective treatments for hoarding disorder. It’s common for people with hoarding disorder to have another co-occurring or comorbid mental health condition such as an anxiety disorder like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or depressive disorders like major depressive disorder (MDD).
Find A Therapist
Seeing a therapist can help with a number of concerns, including hoarding disorder and other mental health conditions, life stressors, trouble in interpersonal relationships, and more. There are a number of ways to find a therapist. You can ask your doctor for a referral, contact your insurance company to see who they cover, search the web, or use a website like Mind Diagnostics that can help you find a therapist who is licensed to practice and work with you. All you have to do is type in your zip code, and you’ll see a range of providers with various specialties. Regardless of how you find a therapist, you deserve to find the care you need, so don’t hesitate to take the first step and reach out today.