3-5% of Americans suffer from hoarding, a condition recently recognized as a psychological disorder.
That statistic shocked me. Does it shock you?
Hoarding is in the spotlight right now because stuffed homes are becoming a public health and safety risk.
Hoarding goes beyond a guest room used to store unwanted things or a large collection of vintage Cabbage Patch Dolls.
Understanding Hoarding in the New York Times explains more about the disorder. Two facts that interested me from the piece:
- 50% of hoarders suffer from major depression.
- Men and women suffer in equal numbers.
One psychologist quoted in the piece said, they (hoarders) acquire to self-soothe or feel a rush—an urge fed by dollar stores, yard sales, big box warehouses and shopping channels.
Self-soothing or looking for a rush from shopping sounds familiar. That’s one of the ways I ended up with a lot of things in my home that I rarely used.
I’ve never suffered from hoarding but I have a lot of empathy for those that do. It must be terrible to live in a prison of your own possessions and feel like there is no way out both literally and figuratively.
How can you help a hoarder? Popular television shows have marginalized these people to freak show status.
They don’t need to be shamed. They need help.
If 50% of them are suffering from major depression perhaps that’s a place to start. If you know someone with this problem offer companionship before an afternoon of de-cluttering.
More reading: a longer article, Task Force Offers Hoarders a Way Out,gives more insight on the public health and safety dangers of hoarding and how community task forces are working to help those suffering from the disorder.
Photo Credit: Kevin Utting
Do you know someone that suffers from hoarding? Have you been able to help them or get them the assistance they need?