In 2013, hoarding was added to the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, officially making hoarding a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Long before a loved one begins to have one or more houses filled with junk, signs of hoarding will be apparent. This is the time to get help. Fortunately, compulsive hoarding and OCD are both treatable mental illnesses.
Drastic Curtailing of Social Activities
One common sign of compulsive hoarding is that the person stops going out for work or family social functions. Hoarders do not like to be away from home or their possessions. Many hoarders can still hold down jobs and go to necessary places like hospitals or grocery stores, but all other outings will be considered unnecessary and dropped.
Refusal to Let Anyone in Their Home
Hoarders are ashamed of their extremely messy homes and never want anyone they care about to see them. At first, hoards can be confined to some rooms, but as the hoard expands, all rooms in the home are eventually filled to overflowing. When the first rooms are filled, the hoard takes over all other rooms that once were reserved for company. The hoarder then stops allowing people to come inside of his or her home.
Trouble Making Decisions
Hoarders often have trouble making hard decisions, which is one reason why they keep so much stuff. By keeping the stuff – even rotting garbage – they seem to be in control of their situation by keeping their stuff near them where they can see it. However, the inability to throw anything out, even things that are clearly decaying, feeds anxiety and makes them unable to make decisions in other areas of life. In order to calm feelings of anxiety or panic, hoarders may move objects from one room to another or from one pile to another without actually throwing anything away.
Many Injured or Sick Animals to Veterinarian
This only applies to animal hoarders, or people who take in far more pets than they can house, feed, clean or care for. The close proximity of the pets leads to fights, disease and ailments from breathing in constant strong urine fumes. Any veterinarian who has a client that keeps bringing in many different sick or injured animals may be dealing with an animal hoarder. As their mental condition deteriorates, animal hoarders often stop bringing pets to the vet, so the time to confront the patient is now.