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Criteria That May Contribute to Hoarding

Although there is debate about the exact causes, it has been determined that there is no single condition that causes hoarding.
Hoarding disorder may run in the family. There is a strong association between having a family member who has hoarding disorder and having the disorder. The hoarder may have difficulty coping with stressful situations. Some people develop the disorder after experiencing the death of a loved one, divorce, moving often, eviction or loosing possessions because of a natural disaster. Items may have emotional attachments, serving as reminders of happier times or representing beloved people or pets. A person dealing with hoarding disorder may have cognitive processing issues that make decision making and problem solving very difficult. There is indecision about what possession to keep or where to put things. They may move items from one pile to another without discarding anything. Hoarders may suffer from attention –deficit disorder, anxiety or depression. Hoarding can also occur in people with dementia, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).There can be excessive guilt about waste. They may have obsessive thoughts and actions such as a fear of running out of an item or needing it someday. Hoarders feel a major sense of loss if they had to throw objects away.  They may check the trash for accidently discarded items.  There is an excessive attachment to possessions, including discomfort letting others touch or borrow them or the distress of letting them go. They may suspect others of stealing their property.  Clutter may reinforce the hoarder’s identify. They often experience a feeling of safety when surrounded by saved things. People with hoarding disorder are typically socially withdrawn and live alone. They may become lonely and take comfort in hoarding. However, if they reside in a home with other people, unlivable conditions may lead to separation, divorce, eviction, loss of child custody, estrangement from children and other members of the family. Hoarders feel an intense emotional attachment to objects, such as of old newspapers, magazines, junk mail, clothes, plastic bags or used napkins from restaurants. Even though others see excessive clutter as trivial or trash people with hoarding disorder don’t recognize they have a problem.
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