How many things do you have stored at home by the famous ‘just in case’? Many times we keep useless objects out of pain or because we think that we are going to use them again, something that almost never happens. This is a very common custom in our society and although it may seem insignificant, the truth is that it can become a big problem . In 2014, a new syndrome related to the accumulation of objects called Accumulation Syndrome was incorporated into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) .

What is hoarding syndrome?

Hoarding syndrome is a psychological disorder characterized by an inability to get rid of objects that you own but are no longer necessary for use in everyday life. People with this syndrome usually accumulate objects such as letters, clothing, magazines, stacks of newspapers and advertisements, books, or small appliances. Those who suffer from this syndrome can occupy more than 70% of the space available in their home, which causes a considerable reduction in the space necessary to be able to live normally. Difficulty getting rid of belongings can be caused by different factors such as :

    • The difficulty organizing possessions they have at home.
    • Happiness and positive feelings that you have when buying new items.
    • Strong negative feelings such as guilt or fear when getting rid of an object.
    • A strong belief that stored items are or will be valuable and useful even when other people no longer want them.
    • The feeling of responsibility for objects.
    • Conviction that inanimate objects have their own feelings .
  • Rejection of a problem , even when clutter or hoarding clearly interferes with the person’s life.

Hoarding syndrome is a type of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) that is sometimes also related to anxiety disorders, personality disorders or mood disorders. It usually occurs between 11 and 15 years of age and although there are no clear causes that determine the development of hoarding disorder in a person, there are a series of elements that are considered risk factors in the appearance of the disorder :

    • Those people who maintain a close relationship, whether family, sentimental or friendship, with someone who suffers from hoarding syndrome are more likely to suffer from the syndrome.
    • Some people begin to suffer from hoarding syndrome after experiencing a stressful event in their life related to the loss of something such as a divorce, the death of a family member, an eviction, or a house fire.
  • People with a personality characterized by indecision are prone to hoarding syndrome.

Its possible consequences

Like most psychological disorders, hoarding syndrome has consequences. The inability to dispose of belongings can cause multiple complications generally related to the health and social relationships of the person suffering from the disorder. The main consequence is the accumulation of objects in the house, disabling the rooms of the house, making it difficult to move around and favoring the probability of falls or fires.. Another major problem that hoarding syndrome can trigger are conflicts or fights with close people such as friends and family. These conflicts intensify when living with other people since the accumulation of objects not only hinders the stay of the person suffering from the disorder but also affects their roommates text link . Finally, people who suffer from hoarding syndrome can become socially isolated due to both discussions with their environment and their misunderstanding.

Treatment for Hoarding Syndrome

There is no specific pharmacological treatment for people who suffer from hoarding syndrome, but there are a series of guidelines that can be followed to help reduce or eliminate the disorder, always with the help of professionals such as psychologists . First of all, it is necessary for family and friends to detect the problem and seek the necessary help to be able to treat the person who suffers from hoarding syndrome, since generally the people who suffer from it are not aware or do not want to recognize that they suffer. a problem. They tend to justify that the objects they accumulate can be useful to themAt some point, for this reason, it is almost always a close person who takes the first step to encourage those who suffer from the syndrome to go to a professional. Of course, this step is not definitive since once they go to a professional many people manage to accept their problem and end up letting go of it but many others do not come to accept it, even abandoning the treatment .

The treatment that works best in these cases is psychological , through cognitive-behavioral therapy and sometimes with the support of pharmacological treatment, but it always depends on the person. Treatment usually consists of making the person who suffers from hoarding syndrome change their ideas and beliefs about their belongings, making them see that they do not have the importance that they give them so that little by little they can get rid of them and not accumulate new items again .

Differences with Diogenes syndrome

Although they may seem the same thing, accumulation syndrome and Diogenes syndrome have very clear differences between their characteristics:

    • While the accumulation syndrome consists of the inability of a person to dispose of their belongings by storing them at home despite not having space, the Diogenes syndrome consists of the impulse of a person to accumulate garbage and useless objects in their home reached the limit of unhealthiness.
    • People with Diogenes syndrome generally suffer from significant personal decline as they tend not to take care of themselves. However, people with hoarding syndrome lead almost normal lives and do not suffer personal deterioration.
  • People who suffer from Diogenes syndrome tend to isolate themselves socially and become sullen, while people who suffer from hoarding syndrome do not usually have problems to relate socially beyond discussions with those closest to them or those who live with them.  

Elle Mcdonald

I am Elle Mcdonald Specializations in Psychology . Graduated in psychology from the University of Tennessee in 2000. Diploma of Advanced Studies in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and psychological treatments with excellent results.

First Level of Master in Clinical Psychology at the Center for Behavioral Therapists (recognized with a scientific-professional nature by the College of Psychologists)

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