Sue Scheff: Hoarding can start in the adolescence years

With the expansion of cable television, there doesn't seem to be a topic in reality shows that is missing. From 16 and Pregnant, to Intervention, to Hoarders, people are learning more about a variety of issues. More importantly, there is now an awareness that is helping others to understand disorders, addictions, challenges others are facing and a distinct mental health problem such as hoarding.

Hoarding can start in early adolescence. If not addressed, it can get progressively worse. Some of the symptoms can be:

  • Cluttered living spaces
  • Inability to discard items
  • Keeping stacks of newspapers, magazines or junk mail
  • Moving items from one pile to another, without discarding anything
  • Acquiring unneeded or seemingly useless items, including trash
  • Difficulty managing daily activities, including procrastination and rouble making decisions
  • Difficulty organizing items
  • Perfectionism
  • Excessive attachment to possessions, and discomfort letting others touch or borrow possessions
  • Limited or no social interactions
It's not clear what causes hoarding. Some researchers believe that hoarding occurs on a continuum - some people may simply be considered harmless pack rats, while others have a much more severe form of collecting that is life-threatening. The condition is more likely to affect those with a family history of hoarding, so genetics and upbringing are likely among the triggering factors.

Hoarding is currently considered a subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but this classification is under debate. Many mental health researchers argue that, while some people with OCD have hoarding behavior, hoarding is not specific to OCD. In fact, one study found that hoarding was no more likely to be associated with OCD than with other anxiety disorders. - Mayo Clinic

Some risk factors and features about hoarding that researchers have come to understand are associated with age, family history, stress factors, social isolation and perfectionism.

Help for hoarders is widespread today. Hoarding Cleanup is an nationwide service that offers resources of help. If you are in Florida, click here to find a local service near you.

Parents, start with your kid's bedrooms - encourage them to keep their rooms organized and if you notice that their room is becoming more than "just a messy room" take steps to find out why. Another red flag could be your child's locker at school. Check it out!

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.

Read more on Examiner.

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