The psychological impacts of hoarding can be great, negatively impacting the life of the individual who is hoarding. In many hoarding situations, the individual with hoarding behavior is not the only one impacted. Family and friends can also feel the impact.
Children and spouses of hoarders may be embarrassed, ashamed, and insecure about their family member(s) and situation. If they are still residing within the home, they may avoid letting others see their place of residence. These individuals may not reveal where they live to their friends, or may even isolate themselves from society to avoid close relationships and possible exposure of their family secret. Adult children may refuse to associate themselves with their hoarding parent(s) upon leaving the house.
Stress, anxiety, depression, and frustration can also be felt by family members of a hoarding individual. They may not understand how this family member can continue his/her hoarding behavior despite the negative impacts that result. These family members of a hoarder may be stressed about the conditions they are residing in and/or about the inability to change the hoarding circumstances. Feelings of resentment towards the hoarder may be experienced due to the frustration and anger about the situation. Some situations may leave family members feeling depressed because they feel they cannot help the hoarder or themselves.
Social skills may be impaired due to growing up in a hoarding environment. Having grown up in isolation, some people may become socially awkward, unsure how to form relationships with people and avoid uncovering their family’s dirty little secret.
Minimalist or hoarding behavior may result from a hoarding environment. Many kids copy the habits of their parents or may completely oppose their parents’ lifestyle. The hoarding behavior may be learned behavior, having been raised as a normal state of being. For those who are embarrassed and/or disgusted by the hoarding environment they grew up in, they may develop minimalist behavior to deny the situation they were once in.
Hoarding situations are difficult for everyone involved. It is important not to snap at the individual who is hoarding because that will not improve the situation, but it is just as important to make the hoarder aware of how their behavior and clutter are affecting you as a family member. Research the hoarding condition and methods of treatment that are available in order to be armed with the proper knowledge and able to share it with the individual who is hoarding. Specialty cleaning companies can help resolve the matter of the physical clutter, but seeking the assistance of a mental health professional and/or support group can also improve the situations. Many cities/towns also have hoarding task forces which can provide further knowledge and support. Do not silently suffer under unconventional conditions. Many circumstances can be alleviated with the proper help.
Read Psychological Impacts of Hoarding – Part 1: The Individual Hoarding to learn about the psychological impacts of hoarding on the individual with hoarding behavior.