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From Mild to Severe: Understanding the Five Levels of Hoarding

From Mild to Severe Understanding the Five Levels of Hoarding - Bio-One of Marion County

Hoarding is a mental health condition in which an individual has ongoing difficulty parting with possessions, even if they have little or no actual value. It can result in significant clutter and disorganization, which can start to interfere with daily activities, making it impossible for one to live comfortably or safely. Hoarding can take on different forms, and severity levels, and impact people in many ways. In this post, we will be exploring the five levels of hoarding disorder, that is,  from mild, to moderate and severe.

Disclaimer: Our primary intention is to elucidate and cultivate awareness around the varied manifestations of Hoarding Disorder. We are not mental health professionals. It is always recommended to consult with a licensed mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

The Five Levels of Hoarding

Before we delve into the specifics of each level, it's crucial to understand that hoarding is not simply a question of messy surroundings or the reluctance to discard old items. It's a complex and often misunderstood disorder that deeply affects the individual's life and environment. The five levels of hoarding range from mild, which might be barely noticeable to others, to severe, where the condition may pose serious health and safety risks. Let's analyze each level in detail to better understand this condition.

Level One - Least Severe and Little Amounts of Clutter

In the first level, there's little clutter in the individual's living space, and it doesn't seem out of the ordinary. They might have some difficulty parting with their belongings but can still maintain a clean and organized home. It may not significantly impact their daily life or relationships.

Level Two - Moderate Clutter in One or More Rooms

At this level, individuals face increased difficulty in discarding items, which often results in moderate amounts of clutter in one or more rooms. They might feel shame or embarrassment about their living conditions and may start to isolate themselves from others.

Moderate clutter in child's bedroom.
Moderate clutter in child's bedroom. Image by user15285612 on Freepik

Level Three - Excessive Clutter and Moderate Hoarding

Moderate hoarding involves more visible and severe cases of clutter. Individuals dealing with moderate hoarding tend to display a stronger attachment to their possessions, often making it hard for them to get rid of anything. In such cases, people who hoard may have limited access to their living space, limiting activities like cooking, cleaning, and sleeping arrangements.

Moderate hoarding may include visible piles of stuff, such as old newspapers, books, clothing, and general debris, including wrappers or used food containers. The collections may have overtaken beds, couches, hallways, tables, and floors.

Level Four - Structural Damage and Poor Sanitary Conditions

Level four hoarding
Level four hoarding.

Individuals with extreme hoarding are at risk of significant safety risks, such as structural damage to their home or apartment, which can pose a threat to themselves and others. At this stage, individuals may have lost control over their living space completely. The accumulation of clutter has rendered the living environment unsafe and unsanitary, making it challenging to carry out basic daily tasks.

In addition to structural damage, poor hygiene is also a concern. Clutter can harbor mold, pests, bacteria, and other harmful substances that can cause serious health problems. The individual's hygiene may also be impacted due to limited access to necessary items like toiletries or clean clothes.

Level Five - Multiple Health Hazards and House Becomes Inhabitable

At this stage, the home is no longer considered safe to inhabit. Clutter is present in all rooms and outdoors. There are obvious signs of rodent or insect infestation, and there may also be human feces and an excessive number of pets. The individual may have completely given up on managing their home and is unable to make repairs or renovations. This level of hoarding puts individuals at risk for health hazards, fire hazards, exposure to toxic substances, and structural collapse.

Severely hoarded home
Severely hoarded home.

Additionally, at this stage, the individual's mental and physical health may be severely impacted. Social isolation and shame can lead to depression and anxiety. The individual may also face legal consequences due to code violations and complaints from neighbors.

Seeking Help for Hoarding Disorder

Hoarding requires a multi-faceted approach to treatment. It's essential to seek professional help from therapists, counselors, or specialized hoarding support groups. Professionals can provide the necessary resources and guidance to help individuals manage their hoarding behaviors and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

In addition to seeking professional help, there are also steps that individuals can take to address hoarding. These include decluttering slowly and gradually, creating a support system, setting realistic goals, and implementing organizational strategies.

Another crucial aspect of addressing hoarding disorder is understanding the underlying causes.

You may be interested: Beyond the Clutter: Exploring the Common Reasons for Hoarding

Bio-One of Marion County Can Help

If left untreated, hoarding can lead to harmful and hazardous situations. Understanding the different levels of hoarding can help identify and provide the necessary support for individuals who struggle with this condition. It's also essential to approach the situation with empathy and understanding, as hoarding is a complex and challenging disorder to overcome.

If you or someone you know needs help, Bio-One of Marion County offers professional and compassionate hoarding cleanup services. Our team has specialized training and experience in dealing with hoarding situations. We can provide a safe and efficient cleanup process for you or your loved one!

Bio-One specializes in blood and bodily fluids, decomposition/undiscovered death, crime scene, suicide cleanup, tear gas, feces/urine, sewage backups, 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.