The Mayo Clinic defines hoarding as the excessive collection of things, along with the inability to discard them.
Such behavior creates unsanitary conditions and, in severe cases, the inability to function normally.
Although hoarding has become more recognized in recent years thanks to television reality shows, it is a psychological disease that experts say is often related to or a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder. The major issue, they say, is that many people who have the disorder fail to recognize it as a problem, making treatment extremely challenging.
Although hoarding carries both denial and shame for many people, there is hope for change in the form of therapy and anti-clutter strategies.
Dr. Amy Austin has encountered only one case of hoarding at her Palm Desert practice. “Unfortunately, she stopped coming,” said Austin. “She was not ready for treatment.”
Austin, who is an addiction specialist, says hoarding is more of an obsessive-compulsive disorder, but, like addiction, those with hoarding disorders are resistant to change. “What we are talking about is an anxiety disorder. People decrease levels of anxiety by hoarding.”