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Hoarding can Endanger Lives, Says New Study

m. Some persons, out of love for animals, may keep too many pets in their home-another form of hoarding. Persons who hoard often have extreme problems with making decisions. Instead of facing the decision to throw something away, they just avoid it.

"They have a hard time seeing the big picture. They don't see how a little decision, like keeping an old magazine because they haven't yet read it, can turn into a whole big mess. They have a hard time moving from the particular to the general," Hart added.

Well-meaning family and friends may try to help by clearing all the clutter away from the hoarder's home-a temporary solution at best. Without mental health counselling, hoarders usually will go back to hoarding again.

For severe cases of hoarding, inpatient treatment may help by removing the person from their hoarding environment and evaluating whether they may also have a co-occurring psychological problem, such as depression or anxiety, Hart says. Patients in the Menninger OCD Treatment program who hoard participate in cognitive behavioural therapy and learn decision making skills.

They also work on their beliefs about hoarding, and learn to understand their emotional reaction when they throw items away. For treatment to be successful, it must also happen where the patients hoard.

"It is important that they receive some sort of therapeutic help in the home. It is usually the best strategy for the therapist to train family or friends or volunteers how to help," Hart said.


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