Hoarding is generally indicated if an individual has had a long-term problem with getting rid of possessions regardless of their actual value or usefulness. The individual consistently reports that the items are needed or suffers distress when asked to discard them. The resulting hoarding creates an accumulation that interferes with normal and common or shared living areas. These areas can often no longer be used for their intended purpose because of the hoarding. If there are clear areas it has been done by family members, cleaners or the authorities and usually of at the objections of the person hoarding.
The hoarding causes major interference or impairment in the individual’s ability to work, socialize as well as possibly compromising safety in their environment for themselves and others.
The Hoarding must not be better explained by a medical condition like a brain injury, cerebrovascular disease, Prader-Willi syndrome or a mental health problem like obsessive compulsive disorder, decreased energy in major depressive disorder, delusions in schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder, cognitive deficits in neurocognitive disorders or significant restricted interest in autism spectrum disorder.
About 80-90% of people who hoard have excessive acquisition re: buying or getting items free. The individual accumulates things that are not needed and that there is no available space for, including newspapers, magazines, old clothing, bags, books and mail. Remember what a person will hoard is limited only by their imagination.
The person has good insight when they realize that the hoarding is problematic, poor insight when they believe that there is mostly no problem and finally, the individual suffers delusional beliefs when convinced that there is absolutely no problem even when there is evidence to the contrary.
Onset of hoarding can occur as early as 11-15 years old causing greater problems by age 20, worsening through each decade.
Hoarders often report traumatic life events preceding the onset or as the cause of an exacerbation.
Hoarding behavior if familial, with about 50% of individuals who hoard having a relative who also hoards.
About 75% of the time there is also one or more other condition present, major depression, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder or OCD.
The resulting clutter interferes with house cleaning, cooking, personal hygiene, poor sanitation, broken appliances and general disrepair of the dwelling, general and serious health issues and potential legal action.
Please consult an expert if you suspect that someone you care about is hoarding in Greater Philadelphia, the Main Line, Montgomery County, PA, or the surrounding areas. Hoarding can be difficult to treat and often get worse without treatment.