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Connecting the Dots: Understanding Causes of Hoarding Behavior

Connecting the Dots: Understanding Causes of Hoarding Behavior - Bio-One of Marion County

Even with all the resources and information about the condition, hoarding is still misunderstood and stigmatized. It involves accumulating and saving large quantities of items, even if they have little or no value. This behavior typically results in cluttered homes or environments, difficulty discarding possessions, and feelings of distress when trying to get rid of items. Hoarding can have serious consequences on an individual's physical and mental health, as well as their relationships and daily functioning. Around 2-6% of the general population struggles with hoarding behavior, making it a common yet often overlooked issue. Let's delve into the causes of hoarding behavior and connect the dots to better understand these circumstances.

hoarding environment

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors can play a significant role in the causes of hoarding behavior. For some people, growing up in an environment where material possessions were highly valued or scarce may have influenced their beliefs about owning and discarding items. Additionally, traumatic events can lead to hoarding behavior as a coping mechanism and may include experiences such as loss, poverty, or abuse.

Genetics and Brain Function

Though research is not conclusive, some studies have shown that genetics may also contribute to hoarding behavior. Studies have found that individuals with a family history of Hoarding Disorder are more likely to develop the behavior themselves. Similarly, brain imaging studies have revealed differences in brain function and structure in individuals with hoarding, suggesting a neurological basis for the behavior.

hoarding and mental health
Image by Freepik

Mental Health Disorders

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is one of the most commonly associated disorders, as hoarding can be seen as a subtype of OCD. Other conditions such as depression, anxiety, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have also been linked to hoarding behavior.

Is Hoarding Related to Other Mental Health Disorders?

Yes.  Hoarding behavior often co-occurs with other mental health disorders. This is a comorbidity, and complicates the diagnosis and treatment of Hoarding Disorder. Professional intervention is highly advisable, and it's essential for individuals struggling with hoarding behavior to receive treatment that addresses all underlying mental health conditions.

hoarding hazardous environment

Emotional Attachment

For some people, hoarding may stem from a strong emotional attachment to objects. This can be especially true for sentimental items or possessions with memories of past experiences. The act of discarding these items may feel like letting go of those memories, which can be emotionally distressing.

Emotional Distress and Hoarding

The emotional attachment to objects can lead to significant distress in individuals with hoarding behavior. The thought of getting rid of items may trigger intense feelings of anxiety, guilt, or sadness. As a result, they avoid discarding items and continue to accumulate possessions, creating an environment that is not only dangerous for them but also for others.

Is There a Treatment for Hoarding Disorder?

Yes, there are various treatment options available for Hoarding Disorder. These may include psychotherapy, specifically cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and medication management. CBT can help individuals identify and challenge their thoughts and behaviors related to hoarding, while medication can address any co-occurring mental health disorders that may be contributing to the hoarding behavior.

Learn more: Hoarding Treatment Options: Recommendations from Experts

How to Intervene in a Hoarding Situation

If you suspect that a loved one may be struggling with hoarding behavior, it's essential to approach the situation with sensitivity and compassion. Hoarding is a complex condition, and the person may feel shame or embarrassment about their behavior. Here are some tips for intervening in a hoarding situation:

  1. Educate yourself about Hoarding Disorder: Understanding the causes of hoarding behavior, symptoms, and treatment options can help you approach the situation with compassion and knowledge.
  2. Express your concerns in a non-judgmental way: Instead of criticizing or shaming, express your concern for their well-being and how the hoarding behavior may be impacting them.
  3. Offer support and resources: Let your loved one know that they are not alone and that there are resources available to help them manage their hoarding behavior.
  4. Encourage them to seek professional help: Hoarding is a mental health condition, and it's important for individuals to receive professional treatment from a therapist or psychiatrist.
hoarding before and after scenario

Bio-One of Marion County Can Help

Our team at Bio-One recognizes the importance of treating our customers with empathy and respect, and we always work closely with them to develop a customized cleaning plan that meets their needs. Our services include decluttering, organizing, and deep cleaning of the hoarded spaces. If you or a loved one are struggling with hoarding behavior, reach out to Bio-One of Marion County. We are here to help.

Bio-One of Marion County is a locally owned and operated biohazard and hoarding cleaning company serving Indianapolis and the surrounding areas. We specialize in all types of extreme cleaning, including blood and bodily fluids, decomposition/undiscovered death, crime scene, suicide cleanup, tear gas, feces/urine, rodent droppings, sewage backups, hoarding, gross filth, virus/bacteria disinfection and odor removal. Helping people get their lives back in order is our #1 priority. 

Bio-One of Marion County is here to help you 24/7, 365 days a year! Call (317) 499-0614, and you'll speak directly to one of us when you call; there is never an answering service.  We'll treat you like a person with the compassion and respect that you deserve.