Hoarding may seem to be an external issue, physically cluttering a property, but hoarding may also present psychological impacts as well. The clutter can produce various physical dangers but in addition to the physical threats, clutter can also have a mental impact on the individual hoarding.
The inability to focus on clutter may be due to hoarding. The presence of clutter can be distracting. If the environment is chaotic and unorganized, the mind can become easily sidetracked. A busy environment will take away some of a person’s attention because it is difficult to focus on too many things at a time. Due to the clutter, an individual who is hoarding may have difficulty focusing on specific tasks, so in the case of attempting to clean up clutter, the person may find it difficult to focus on one section at a time and become overwhelmed.
Stress and anxiety over hoarding conditions is a common experience. A “messy” environment can produce pessimistic feelings. Looking around at overwhelming conditions can produce negative emotions, leaving the individual stressed and upset. If other people are criticizing the individual and his/her living situation, this may result in additional feelings of stress.
Depression may be a result of hoarding in some situations. People who are hoarding may cut themselves off from others, becoming isolated. The combination of isolation, stress, and feelings of defeat can lead to the individual feeling upset over their circumstances.
Insomnia and problems with sleep patterns can be a result of a hoarding situation. As previously mentioned, clutter can be distracting. The mind can have difficulty relaxing when the sleeping environment is cluttered. Lack of sleep, and in turn lack of energy, can play a part of depression, anxiety, the inability to focus, and a person’s productivity.
Hoarding disorder is a mental disorder so it makes sense that there are psychological concerns involved. In addition to physically cleaning up the clutter that resulted from hoarding behavior, it is crucial to seek the help of a mental health professional in order to effectively treat the hoarding disorder. Another source to utilize is a support group. There may be a local support group in your area, but if not, there are online support groups people can turn to. A hoarding situation does not need to be handled alone; help is available for individuals with hoarding behavior.
Read Psychological Impacts of Hoarding – Part 2: Family to learn about the impact of hoarding on family members.