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When Does a Collection Become a Hoarding Fire Risk?

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Over 40 million Americans have some type of anxiety disorder.

A little anxiety is normal for survival; persistent excessive fears and worries can be debilitating. Sometimes the stress of an overactive mind can lead to other mental health disorders such as hoarding.

If you or a loved one are dealing with hoarding disorder, this article is for you. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and risks, you can finally find the solution you need.

When is hoarding a fire risk? Read on to find out.

What Is a Hoarding Disorder?

You know that hoarding involves clutter, but what is the disorder actually all about? Hoarding disorder is a type of mental health problem. It happens when individuals start saving many items, whether or not they have value.

The items can include paper products, clothing, magazines, and more. Sometimes hoarding can even involve collecting a large number of animals. Very quickly, hoarding disorder can lead to dangerous amounts of clutter.

The condition can interfere with the individual’s life in several ways. For instance, it can cause an intense amount of shame and stress.

Having an open, social life can be challenging when you’re afraid to have people over to your home. It can also be difficult to maintain a state of mental clarity amongst the clutter.

Why Do People Become Hoarders?

Why would somebody become a hoarder? It’s definitely not a conscious choice. Remember, hoarding is a mental health problem.

The exact causes are still unknown. However, there are a few things that are usually associated with hoarding.

Typically, hoarders have had some type of traumatic life event. They might also suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder or depression.

Hoarders tend to have impulsive buying habits too, making it easy for the clutter to pile up. They’ll find it difficult to pass up coupons or flyers.

For a hoarder, if something is free, they want it. Finally, if somebody has a relative who also suffers from hoarding, it’s more likely to develop the disorder themselves.

Signs of Hoarding

What are the signs of hoarding? One is the irrational inability to throw away any type of possession.

Individuals will start experiencing a lot of stress or anxiety when they simply think about throwing things away. Sometimes the anxiety is based on feeling like they’ll need those objects in the future. Other times, the anxiety has to do with their emotional ties to different objects.

Another sign of hoarding disorder is uncertainty about where things should go. There won’t be any type of organization within the house, and instead, everything will be in a state of confusion.

Other symptoms include distrust of other people touching their belongings. A hoarder isn’t going to want someone touching their clutter; in fact, they’re likely to isolate themselves completely. This brings us to our final symptom, complete isolation or withdrawal.

When friends and family members start having trouble getting ahold of their loved ones, the clutter is likely beginning to take over. The only hope will rest in cleaning up hoarding sites, once and for all. 

Unlivable Areas Create a Fire Risk

Sometimes it can be tricky deciding if someone’s dealing with hoarding disorder or simply has a messy home. One of the top signs of hoarding disorder is if a part of the house has become completely unusable. This could be an entire room or even multiple rooms taken up by clutter.

Compulsive hoarding means that the collection will continue growing. It’ll never stop.

In many situations, the furniture will be moved towards the center of the room as the edges of the room start piling up with useless objects. Before you know it, only a pathway will exist within the home.

Following a path from room to room is no way to live. It’s also a major fire risk.  So the moment part of the house becomes unusable, it’s time to start taking action. 

Zero Organization to the Clutter

Hoarding also becomes a fire risk when there’s a lack of organization. Not only will there be no space, but the clutter itself will also be completely unorganized.

A hoarder doesn’t have any filing system or organization plan in place. Instead, everything is just a jumble of clutter here and there.

The extreme disorder creates uncleanliness issues. It’s also one of the most evident signs that you’re dealing with a hoarder rather than somebody who just has too much stuff.

Throwing Things Away the Right Way

Educating yourself on hoarding is the first step towards providing help. Hoarding may be illogical to you; the more you understand the disorder, the more likely you are to be empathetic.

You have to remember to focus on the person you’re trying to help, not the stuff they’ve collected. You have to be patient and understanding if you want to make a difference

Do you have a friend that’s spiraling into complete isolation. Find small ways to connect with them, even if over the phone.

Realistic Recovery Plan

Before you start helping someone with a hoarding problem, set up realistic expectations.  Help your friends set realistic milestones as they create a recovery plan.

Hoarding doesn’t happen overnight, and neither will the recovery process. As you begin throwing things away, expect emotional setbacks.

There are a lot of ways to help your loved one heal. Common treatments for hurting disorders include cognitive behavioral therapy and sometimes antidepressants. 

Invite your friend to seek a therapist to help them recover from hoarding. There are also support groups that can be tremendously helpful.

Embracing a Clutter-Free Life

It’s clear to see that hoarding disorder can quickly create a fire risk, especially when things are getting out of hand. By noticing the symptoms sooner rather than later, you can help liberate your loved one once and for all.

Set up a time to talk to your loved one this week. Gently let them know that you’re here to help, and be ready to listen to whatever they have to say.

Are you looking for more ways to help yourself and others embrace the good life? Look around the rest of our site for tips.

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