Compulsive hoarding has become more concentrated since the pandemic –

1 of 4 | Studies show that between 3% and 5% of the population are compulsive hoarders, endangering themselves and others. Photo by Grap/Wikimedia Commons

NEW YORK, Oct. 17 (UPI) — News stories about hoarding seem to appear with more frequency these days, featuring stories of people who have little space to eat or sleep because their floors, countertops and bookshelves are in disarray. with thousands of items that have very little tangible value.

Occasionally, a story will describe someone trapped in a fire where rescuers cannot reach them. Several accounts recount how humane societies have seized large numbers of sick or starving dogs or cats from animal hoarders.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, experts say they have seen an increased focus on hoarding disorder, characterized by an unwillingness to part with any belongings, no matter how worthless they may be. To what extent is it used?

Such compulsive behavior poses a serious danger to hoarders, as well as bystanders and rescue workers.

“Excessive accumulation of materials in the home poses a significant threat to firefighters fighting fires and responding to other emergencies,” the National Fire Protection Association said on its website. in these houses as well as the residents and neighbors.”

“Since studies show that between 3% and 5% of the population are compulsive hoarders, fire departments must become familiar with this problem and how to handle it effectively.”

In general, hoarding has become more frequent and severe since the pandemic, Dr. Michelle DiBlasi told UPI in a phone interview.

DiBlasi is the chief of inpatient psychiatry at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and an expert on the psychological reasons why people hoard magazines, papers, valuables, toys, clothes, and even also food.

While teletherapy is effective, she said, in-person visits allow mental health professionals to interact with patients “on a deeper level and help them get rid of objects in a less most stressful”.

Hoarders are overly sentimental about their belongings for many reasons. Some people have faced financial troubles or serious trauma such as abuse or neglect, DiBlasi said, while others have had difficulty connecting with people.

“It’s a way to protect yourself,” she said. “They are building a wall” by not allowing people into their homes due to clutter.

To address hoarding disorder, mental health professionals often recommend cognitive behavioral therapy — a treatment based on structured intervention — along with medication.

“Typically, therapists will meet with patients in their homes and answer questions. [possessions] at the patient’s own pace. They discuss what each item means to the patient, why they find it difficult to part with it, and what it would mean if they let it go,” said Robert Chester, a psychologist at the Center. University Hospital Cleveland Medical Center, told UPI via email.

Research shows that more than 60% of people diagnosed with hoarding disorder have another mental condition — usually depression, anxiety, social phobia or obsessive-compulsive disorder — that makes it difficult to Treatment becomes complicated.

However, Chester said, several studies have shown that the majority of participants experienced a significant reduction in the severity of their symptoms after treatment.

Holding on to tangible objects is not the only form of hoarding that has become popular, says psychologist Simon A. Rego, chief of psychology at Montefiore Health System in the Bronx, NY.

“As we move straight into the digital age, there is a new, less visible type of hoarding that some researchers call ‘digital hoarding,’ which follows a similar pattern,” Rego said. like hoarding inanimate objects”.

It’s the habit of “collecting and accumulating a significant amount of digital content, making it difficult to get rid of it, leading to digital clutter,” he added.

In other cases, people hoard animals, psychologist David Tolin, director of the Anxiety Disorders Center at the Living Institute in Hartford, Conn., told UPI in a phone interview.

“When people save animals, it’s often because they think they’re doing the animals a favor, although in the case of animal hoarding, we see that they’re slowly killing them,” he said.

“Not only do they accumulate a lot of animals, but they also fail to provide the animals with basic nutrition, sanitation and veterinary care. That often requires quite a bit of convincing that you’re not helping these animals. “

Dr. Asim Shah, professor and executive vice president of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said in a phone interview that he has seen an increase in significantly in hoarding, especially among those who did so before the pandemic.

Hoarding is “a problem for indecisive people, perfectionists and procrastinators,” he said. “Hoarders often have a degree of shame and embarrassment over hoarding. They also exhibit a need for control.”

Jennifer Pinto, a licensed mental health counselor and director of Trotman behavioral health at Beth Israel Deaconess-Needham Hospital in Needham, Mass., told UPI that the disorder is “a persistent condition, Slow progression, typical onset in adolescence. email.

“Given the complexity of the disorder, treatment appears to be most effective when customized to each patient, as there is no clearly defined universal approach,” she said.

Different minds have different ways of responding to difficult situations, David Nathan, a psychologist at Minneapolis-based Allina Health, told UPI via email.

“Because the pandemic has been a very difficult experience for everyone involved, we’ve seen increased rates of all stress reactions, and that includes an increase in hoarding behaviors”.

“Therapy helps the patient understand what is going on in their mind in relation to ‘security’ in possessing these assets, and the therapist/caregiver can help the patient figure out what these assets are.” Another way to feel secure and comfortable without having to keep all these assets.”

Treatment can take some time and tends to be effective only if the patient tries to quit a heavy habit.

“We can’t just flip a switch and make it go away,” Nathan said.

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