Hoarding is a deeply rooted psychological issue. There are treatments available, but this mental health disorder cannot be “solved” or “cured” overnight.
Seeking professional help in the early stages or when symptoms first present themselves is critical in order to diagnose the disorder and minimize the negative effects on your loved one.
If you suspect a person in your life has a hoarding disorder, you’ve likely seen the warning signs:
- Persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions
- Severe anxiety when attempting to discard the items
- No organization to the clutter
- Loss of living space because of the large quantity of items or unsanitary conditions
- Health hazards in the home
- Social isolation
- Too many pets, to the point where conditions are unsanitary and pets cannot be cared for
- Combative or defensive when confronted
As a trusted family member or friend, you want to get the person you love help. Professional hoarder cleaning services can begin the process of healing by giving your loved one a safe and clean home once again. But, it’s important that you also seek professional intervention from a mental health professional so your loved one can continue to live in a safe and healthy environment.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are various types of treatment options available for someone who suffers from a hoarding disorder. The first step, before seeking treatment, is to see a mental health professional who can properly diagnose your loved one’s condition.
Because research has found some may be genetically predisposed to developing a hoarding disorder, and because many hoarders also suffer from other mental disorders, it’s important for a mental health professional to properly assess your loved one before treatment begins.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the primary treatment for those experiencing hoarding disorders is psychotherapy, otherwise known as talk therapy. Of this type of therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common form.
If your loved one undergoes this type of therapy, he or she may:
- Learn to identify and challenge thoughts related to saving items
- Learn how to resist the urge to acquire more items
- Learn how to organize possessions, which will help your loved one decide what to discard
- Improve coping skills
- Declutter during in-home visits by the therapist
- Learn to reduce isolation and increase social involvement
- Learn ways to enhance motivation for change
Family or group therapy also may be part of this treatment, as well as regular, periodic visits by the therapist. If your loved one seeks this type of treatment, the Mayo Clinic says it’s important to find a mental health professional with experience specifically treating hoarding disorders.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved any medications to treat hoarding disorders. However, there are medications available to treat other disorders that can be associated with hoarding disorders. These include anxiety and depression.
The Mayo Clinic says most commonly used are antidepressants called serotonin reuptake inhibitors. The organization also notes that research continues on the most effective ways to use medications in treating hoarding.
Additional Treatment And Help
While professional treatment is the most important type of treatment your loved one should seek if you suspect he or she has a hoarding disorder, there are some steps that can be taken at home to help treatment progress as well.
- Reach out for support: Hoarders often experience isolation and loneliness. There are many support groups for people who suffer from hoarding. These support groups can help the hoarder feel as if she is not alone, as well as provide a sounding board as she progresses through treatment.
- Take small steps: With a professional’s help, outline small steps you can take at home to help manage your hoarding disorder. Hoarding cannot be “cured” overnight, and often requires tackling small steps, one at a time.
- Emphasize health: Clean out your tub or shower, as well as your stove and refrigerator, so that you can focus on your hygiene and eating nutritious meals.
Accepting assistance is also an important component of getting help, with many services available to help in addition to professional mental health providers. Professional cleaners trained in working with hoarding situations can help make your loved one’s home uncluttered, safe and healthy.
An experienced hoarder cleaning company also understands that the cleanup process is a difficult time for everyone involved, and that it’s important to perform their work in a compassionate and respectful way. A hoarding clean-up plan may include:
- Assessing the situation to determine any safety issues.
- Forming a cleaning strategy to designate what work will be done, when and by whom.
- Coordinating equipment and supplies, as well as use connections in the community to arrange any needed trucks, dumpsters, cleaning supplies and contract work.
- Putting the cleaning strategy into motion, with the end goal of restoring the home so that it is once again safe, organized and livable.
Our article, What Do Hoarder Cleaning Services Include?, further explains the process behind what goes on during cleanup in a hoarding situation, as well as a network of professionals that is available to help your loved one get on a better path toward wellness.