Compulsive hoarders: symptoms, causes and treatment
Compulsive hoarders are people who have hoarding disorder and who have great difficulty separating from their belongings, regardless of their real value. For this reason, it is common for the house and the workplace, in some cases, to have several objects accumulated, which can make it difficult to circulate in the environment and the use of various surfaces.
People with hoarding disorder may be aware of their problem, however, there are hoarders who may have delusional ideas and should be diagnosed and treated by a psychologist or psychiatrist.
The accumulation of objects can result in the wear and tear of social and work relationships and, therefore, it is important that these people receive and accept the support of their family and friends, since the person often does not see it as a problem and , therefore, does not seek treatment, which must be done under the guidance of a psychologist.
In general, compulsive hoarders have some of the following signs and symptoms:
- Difficulty getting rid of objects, regardless of their real value;
- Difficulty organizing your belongings;
- Accumulate objects in all parts of the house;
- Being excessively afraid of being without an object;
- Feeling that they cannot throw an object in the trash, as they may need it in the future;
- Search for new objects, even when you already have several of the same.
In addition, people who are compulsive hoarders also become more isolated, especially in more severe cases, as they are ashamed of their own situation and the appearance of their home. For this reason, these people are more likely to develop other psychiatric illnesses, such as depression, for example.
These symptoms can still appear during childhood, but tend to worsen with adulthood, when the person starts to buy their own belongings.
What is the difference between an accumulator and a collector?
Often the accumulator can be confused with a collector, or he can even use the excuse of making a collection, just so that others don’t see him in a strange way.
However, an easy way to distinguish both situations is that, normally, the collector takes pride in showing and organizing his collection, while the hoarder may acquire objects that are unrelated to each other and prefer to keep secret, in addition to hiding the objects. objects he accumulates, resulting in greater difficulty in organizing himself.
The exact cause that leads a person to make excessive accumulation of objects is not known, however, it is possible that it is related to genetic factors, to the functioning of the brain or to stressful events in the person’s life.
How is the treatment done?
Treatment for compulsive hoarders can be done through behavioral therapy, where the psychologist seeks to discover the cause of the anxiety that is causing the desire to keep things. However, this treatment can take several years to take effect as it requires a lot of dedication from the person.
Antidepressant drugs can also be used to complement the treatment, helping the patient to avoid the desire for compulsive hoarding, but in this case, they must be indicated by a psychiatrist.
Compulsive hoarders usually do not seek treatment because they do not understand that their situation is an illness, so family members and friends play a very important role in helping the person to heal.
Although hoarding may seem like a little worrying disorder, the truth is that it can have several health risks, especially related to allergies and frequent infections, as the excess of objects makes the task of cleaning the house more difficult, facilitating the accumulation of bacteria, fungi and viruses.
In addition, depending on the degree of accumulation of objects, there may also be a risk of accidental falls or even burying, as objects can fall on top of the person.
On a psychological level, compulsive hoarders are also more likely to be isolated and may develop severe depression, especially when they recognize the problem but do not want, or cannot, undergo treatment.
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