Understanding Hoarders

According to the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), hoarding disorder is described as a pattern of compulsive behaviour involving accumulating numerous possessions that are often of little value to anyone else.    While we all have possessions that we really don't need (hence the popularity of garage sales), compulsive hoarders take the problem to extremes that can even endanger their lives.    Older hoarders, who may also have problems with dementia, can develop a more extrement form of hoarding behaviour, known as Diogenes syndrome,   Also known as senile squalor disorder, these cases can include compulsive hoarding of garbage, along with severe self-neglect,  unsafe living conditions, social withdrawal, apathy, and a lack of self-restraint leading to grim consequences for hoarders and their families.   

Media stories of compulsive hoarders whose bodies have been found in their home, virtually buried under tons of newspapers, garbage, etc. are not uncommon and some hoarders have even become media celebrities.  Most people diagnosed with a hoarding disorder are also likely to have related mental health problems, including chronic depression, generalized anxiety, pbsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and social anxiety.   Hoarders often report serious problems with family, friends, and local authorities that can aggravate their symptoms.   Even the children of hoarders can develop long-term emotional problems that persist long after they have left the family home.  

To read more, check out my new Psychology Today blog post.






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