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The 5 stages of hoarding – understanding hoarding disorder

The 5 stages of hoarding

Many people downplay hoarding, but it is a serious mental health disorder. The cause of hoarding is unknown, but it is believed that it has something to do with structural changes in the brain. People with hoarding disorder tend to acquire useless or low-value items and store them in a particular place. According to a survey, at least 2% of the population in the US suffers from this disorder. It is important to recognize at the early stages to get your loved ones to help to recover from this disorder. There are 5 stages of hoarding, and if you are wondering what are the 5 stages of hoarding here they are:

Stage 1: Little clutter but no concern

Hoarding usually starts small and is not apparent at first. A person may start to collect items of interest such as newspapers, magazines, junk mail, and other printed matter. The person may also store gifts that he or she does not use much anymore. However, there is no sense of urgency or compulsion to acquire these items. Their house may be a little disorganized, but the windows and doors are accessible, and there is sufficient ventilation and no odors.

Stage 2: Poor hygiene and increasing disorder

While the second stage may not be a major sign of concern, the person may exhibit extreme disorganization with one exit blocked, overflowing garbage, untrimmed lawns, and dirty laundry and dishes. While a professional cleaner may fix all this, it becomes a symptom when there is a repeated exhibition of the behavior, even if a person is aware of the deteriorating hygiene conditions in their home.

Stage3: Extreme disorganization, likely disorder

This is the threshold between a chaotic and cluttered environment and hoarding. The person shows little concern for hygiene, and they become irritable and resent any intrusion into their home. They are extremely reluctant to discard items or offer them to charity. The kitchen countertops, floors, and appliances are cluttered with often spoiled food containers, old dishes, and pans. At least one room in their house has been overrun with items such that it is no longer used. There are broken appliances, and bugs and insects may have started to infest the homestead.

Stage 4: Excessive Clutter and behavior change.

This is the most dangerous stage in the progression of hoarding. The house is filled with clutter and is difficult to navigate. It may be impossible to access some areas of the house, including bathrooms and exits. The person may have stopped cleaning their home or themselves as well. At this stage, the person is deemed to be highly likely to have a hoarding disorder. At this stage, it is advisable to contact mental health experts and hoarding cleanup help.

Stage 5: Severe unsanitary conditions, possible hoarding diagnosis

This is the last stage of hoarding, and it indicates a severe hoarding condition. The house is filled with clutter and debris and is almost unusable space. The person may have blocked off exits, and the home may be uninhabitable. Bathrooms may not be usable. The person may be sleeping in hallways or other parts of the house that are not blocked off by clutter to avoid bed bugs and odors. There may be pervasive mold and mildew, and entering the house may require specialized equipment such as masks, gloves, and even protective goggles.

Bottom Line

If a person shows signs of hoarding disorder and persists in the behavior, it is important to ensure they get the help they require. The 5 stages of hoarding highlighted are some of the symptoms that you can monitor to identify this condition. With the severe unsanitary conditions, health hazards, and health risks found through these stages in hoarding. A person must seek help not only for their health but also for the safety of others.

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