Am I A Chronic Hoarder?
Many people consider themselves “pack rats” and frequently joke about their house needing a good spring cleaning. Most of us have probably known people who were avid collectors and whose homes were filled with knickknacks, antiques, books, or any number of other desirable items. Just because you or a friend or family member has a cluttered or messy house doesn’t mean you need intervention or junk removal services to come into your home (unless you really want to get rid of a large amount of stuff).
However, millions of people around the country (an estimated 2-5%) have a serious problem that goes beyond merely being a “pack rat.” These people accumulate items to the point where their home becomes unusable. They may not be able to cook due to the stacks on the counters, bathe because of the items in the bathtub, or sit at a table because the tabletop and chairs are covered with objects they have stored.
Such people may have a Hoarding Disorder, which used to be considered a type of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), but which has been recognized as a separate and unique challenge since 2013.
Am I A Chronic Hoarder?
While having a cluttered home also has its problems, simply having too many belongings does not make a person a chronic hoarder. According to the DSM-5 and Mayo Clinic, Hoarding Disorder is defined by a number of symptoms, such as:
- Persistently finding it difficult to get rid things, regardless of their actual value.
- Great distress at the thought of throwing or giving something away.
- An intense urge to collect or save items that have little intrinsic value.
- Accumulating items to the point where you can no longer use the rooms in your home for their intended purposes.
- Few to no social interactions due to embarrassment over one’s home
- The inability for items to be organized or displayed (like a collection) due to quantity, leading to their accumulation in disorderly stacks or piles around the house.
- Sanitation or fire hazards caused by the buildup.
- Depression and/or anxiety caused by the state of one’s home.
- No other qualifying physical or mental disorders.
In short, if you save items for no other reason than that you have an overwhelming urge to save or distress at throwing things away, and your belongings have taken over your house, causing you stress, physical or social impairment, and health or safety risks, you are probably a chronic hoarder.
Related Types of Hoarding
Hoarding may also be indicative of another mental or physical disorder. The difference between chronic hoarding and hoarding as a symptom of another condition is the presence of other primary symptoms and/or motivations.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is the condition most often associated with hoarding. Until 2013, they were considered one disease, but were separated due to the fact that only a small percentage of chronic hoarders exhibited the other symptoms of OCD or responded to OCD treatments. However, hoarding may be a symptom of OCD if driven by fear of contamination, superstition, or an obsession with a certain object.
Also known as Senile Squalor Syndrome, this condition is not only characterized by chronic hoarding, but also with extreme self-neglect in other areas, usually as a reaction to a traumatic stress. Unlike Hoarding Disorder, patients are generally unashamed and undisturbed by the chaos, and although often highly intelligent, are often also very stubborn, aggressive, suspicious, and emotionally unstable.
Animal Hoarding is similar to Hoarding Disorder, but involves adopting a large number of pets without the means to care for them. Urine, feces, starving and even dead or cannibalized animals are often found in the home, but the patient is unable to discern that he or she is not given them the proper care. This kind of hoarding may also be a symptom of OCD, an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, addiction, dementia, a delusional disorder or an attachment disorder.
How Do I Declutter?
If you’re a patient asking this question, congratulations! You’ve already done the hardest part – acknowledging the need for charge and making the tough decision to declutter. If you’re a landlord, family member, or friend, we know that this is a difficult decision, since the patient may be resistant to your help.
But at Go Junk Free America!, we stand ready to help no matter what the situation. Our experienced crews specialize in hoarding cases, and not only know how to clean out even the most unsanitary piles, but also how to sort through them to identify important documents, such as birth certificates, wills, and contracts; and items of sentimental value, such as photos of friends and family.
We also are able to give the hoarder some small comforts in this difficult time by ensuring them that their “valuables” are not going to waste, but are rather finally being put to a worthy use by recycling or reusing all eligible items.
If you or a loved one is struggling with Hoarding Disorder or any related disorder, we invite you to contact us.
Give us a call at 1-877-465-8653!
Go Junk Free is proud to serve Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, and San Bernardino counties, including the communities of Los Angeles, Burbank, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Sherman Oaks, Marina Del Rey, Brentwood, Hancock Park, Glendale, Culver City, Belair, West Hollywood, North Hollywood, Santa Monica, Universal City, Encino, Inglewood, North Hills, Valley Village, Reseda, Tarzana, and the surrounding areas.