Connection between Trauma and Hoarding

In recent years, mental health professionals have learned a lot about hoarding. It was previously thought to be the same as OCD, but as more people are treated for the disorder, they’ve learned hoarding doesn’t always respond to OCD treatment methods. Studies have shown that the issue with hoarding usually lies in the decision making part of our brains, but not everyone who struggles with decisions turns to hoarding. One common link that psychologists have started to identify is the connection between traumatic events and hoarding behavior.

A study from the University of South Wales found that there may be a relationship between late-onset hoarding and traumatic events, especially if hoarding symptoms start to manifest directly after the event. If someone experiences something devastating, like losing a child or spouse, it leaves an emotional hole that they fill with material objects. These objects become a distraction from dealing with the pain of loss and they also give hoarders something to care about. In a lot of situations, the stuff they collect begins to take the place of personal relationships and makes it hard for hoarders to form attachments with people.

Both childhood and adult trauma can lead to this kind of loss-hoarding behavior. If you experience a devastating loss as a child, that sense of emptiness can remain throughout adulthood. The need to replace what was lost as a child can cause the same kind of emotional attachment to belongings.

If trauma or loss is the cause of hoarding, it helps explain why letting go of belongings is so hard. Since losing or letting go of a belonging triggers the same fear of losing a person, it’s hard not to hold on to everything. Trying to clean up trauma hoarding can cause extreme anxiety and negative emotions when hoarders are asked to let go of something. If you believe trauma is the root of you or a loved one’s hoarding, it’s especially important to seek psychological help. Not only to help address hoarding behavior, but also to help start healing from whatever traumatic event has affected you.

Address Our Mess has helped compiled a list of recommended hoarding therapists if you’re unsure where to start and our crews are also here to help with the physical cleanup.  We understand that even seeking help can be difficult, so we want to make the process as easy as possible. Our crews do all the heavy lifting, so all you have to do is tell us what you want to keep and we will sort, organize, and remove whatever’s left.

If you’ve noticed hoarding behavior and are ready to make a change, it’s never too late. With a combination of therapy and physical cleanup help, you can get back to living clutter free and feeling safe in your own space.

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