We tend to see an uptick in some of our services during the summer months prompted by the odors that develop in hot weather. One of those is hoarding, which the Mayo Clinic defines as “a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them.” Hoarding has been on the rise in recent years, currently estimated to affect 1 in 5 people. The American Psychiatric Association officially registered Hoarding Disorder (HD) as an official mental disorder in 2013.
There is significant variety in how HD affects people from the causes, to things hoarded, and severity. There are various risk factors for hoarding including personality, family history, and stress levels. What we have found is that there is typically a historical disposition towards clutter when what we call a “trigger” event occurs that the affected person(s) is unable to cope with effectively. This could be losing a job, the death of a family member, a health issue or some other traumatic event, and drugs. We have assisted clients that hoard animals, urine, mail, clothing, or simply everything that makes its way into the home. The hoarding is exacerbated by isolation or perceived isolation. It may be depression or debilitating illness/injury that prevents the hoarder from keeping up with their home, but as the situation worsens, embarrassment causes them to withdraw further and try to hide the situation from friends, family and neighbors.