nvdaily.com link to home page

Traffic | Weather | Mobile Edition
Archives | Subscribe

Local News arrow Fire & Rescue arrow Health arrow Joe Beck

| 0

Mental health professionals treating hoarding as mental disorder

By Joe Beck

Mental health professionals are about to formally recognize hoarding as a distinct mental disorder in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to be published this spring.

Jeff Szymanski, a clinical psychologist and executive director of the International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation, said Tuesday the impending change is based on years of research and the experiences of therapists who have been treating patients for the affliction. The DSM, published by the American Psychiatric Association, is widely considered the most authoritative book for understanding mental disorders and potential treatments.

Szymanski estimated five to seven million people in the United States are hoarders, and more of them are coming to the attention of the rest of the public.

"Fire marshals are a great example because people who hoard in many instances hoard until their homes become fire hazards," Szymanski said.

Neighbors complain to authorities and landlords try to evict hoarders because they see a safety hazard to their property, Szymanski said. Complaints and pressure from outsiders are often the only way to persuade hoarders to get help, he added.

"Those who hoard typically don't seek treatment on their own," Szymanski said.

People should not confuse hoarders with pack rats and collectors whose tendency toward untidiness is a more manageable and less troubling personal trait, Szymanski said.

"Collectors have a lot of stuff, but collectors have their stuff organized," he said, adding, "pack rats may have cluttered households, but they use their possessions the way they were intended."

A pack rat may have a cluttered kitchen counter, but it's still recognizable as a counter and used for that purpose. But a hoarder may end up sleeping on a couch because the bed is already occupied by too many objects, Szymanski said.

"It's just the amount of clutter they have," he said. "It's impairing their functioning. It's interfering with their ability to use space around their home like they would like to do."

Szymanski said researchers and hoarding therapists are spearheading about 75 task forces around the country aimed at educating the public about hoarding. The task forces and more information about hoarding are listed at the web site Helpforhoarding.org.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com


Comments that are posted represent the opinion of the commenter and not the Northern Virginia Daily/nvdaily.com. Report abuse by clicking the X next to the comment.

Local News Sections

Agency on Aging Agriculture Alex Bridges Apple Blossom Festival Aviation Basye Berryville Boyce Breaking News Briefs Business Charities Civil War Clarke County Colleges Corrections Courthouse Notes: Permits, Transactions Courts & Legal News Crime & Public Safety Economy and Jobs Edinburg Education Edward N. Bell Election 2012 Entertainment Environment Fairs & Festivals Fire & Rescue Fishers Hill Fort Valley Frederick County Front Royal George Washington National Forest Guest Column Hard Times Health History Holidays Homes In The Spotlight Joe Beck Josette Keelor Kim Walter Ledger Livestock Local Markets Maurertown Media Middletown Military & Veterans Moms Mt. Jackson New Market Page County Pets & Animals Politics Progress 2013 Quicksburg Religion Rockingham County RSW Jail Sally Voth School News Shenandoah County Shenandoah Farms Volunteer Fire Department Star Tannery State Stephens City Steven A. Boyce Strasburg Toms Brook Traffic & Transportation Utilities Valley 911 Warren County Weather West Virginia Winchester Woodstock Year in Review

News | Sports | Business | Lifestyle | Obituaries | Opinion | Multimedia| Entertainment | Homes | Classifieds
Contact Us | NIE | Place a Classified | Privacy Policy | Subscribe

Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily | nvdaily.com | 152 N. Holliday St., Strasburg, Va. 22657 | (800) 296-5137

Best Small Daily Newspaper in Virginia!

nvdaily.com | seeshenandoah.com