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Why do people Hoard?

There is no single reason why people hoard. Research has shown that experiencing some form of a traumatic event can contribute towards hoarding behaviour. Others use hoarding behaviours as a way of coping with emotional distress. For some, it may be strong emotional and sentimental attachment of values to objects. Some people have strong beliefs about the value of knowledge and tend to hoard related materials such as books, magazines and newspapers. For others, hoarding can be a learned behaviour. Perhaps they have grown up in an environment where items were saved and the significance of keeping and not wasting things was considered vitally important. This could play a part in the development of the disorder. Other factors that may contribute to the problem include ingrained perfectionistic tendencies, high standards, difficulty making decisions, need for control, strong beliefs about the significance of items saved and also deprivation – those who may have once been denied objects can hoard as a way of compensating. Moreover, a lack of significant personal relationships can lead to the development of an attachment to objects as a replacement. For these people, the objects represent stability, remaining a constant feature in their environment and life. Saved items may provide a link to positive memories and good times, so they help create an environment of safety and comfort.

As with any psychological condition, it is possible that those suffering from hoarding disorder can also have other conditions. Depression and anxiety are the most common problems, while other conditions include obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bereavement disorder and adjustment disorders (difficulty in coming to terms with changes in circumstances such as the ending of a relationship, employment changes or moving house). These additional issues can interfere with the treatment of the hoarding disorder. For example, if an individual is suffering from depression, the impact of the depression can affect their ability and desire to engage in dealing with their hoarding issues. In addition to mental health issues, people may also suffer from physical health problems that can compound their difficulties.