Compulsive Hoarding Syndrome (CHS) is a disorder where a person afflicted with it collects unnecessary items excessively and finds it hard to throw unneeded things away. Usually diagnosed with OCD in 25 to 40 percent of the cases, hoarding is a condition that has already affected approximately 1,200,000 people in the United States.
While hoarding does not affect all people the same way, some are more severe than others wherein their living conditions are cramped because of all kinds of things clutter their living spaces which become unsanitary and unhygienic.
Some people hoard old newspapers, junk mail and food, while others accumulate trash. More extreme case is hoarding animals even if they have no plans of taking care of them.
Although disorganization, weakness of character, and laziness are listed as apparent reasons for hoarding, scientific and medical research hasn’t ascertained the precise causes of hoarding yet but has considered genetics, biological conditions, and brain abnormalities as primary possible causes.
Compulsive hoarding may manifest if a person suffers from damage caused by infection, surgery, stroke, or even injury leading to brain lesion or abnormal development of the brain. Also, the brains of people with hoarding disorder are seen to function in a different way compared with normal people and with people afflicted with OCD without hoarding tendencies.
Scientific research also discovered that people with OCD compounded by hoarding possess patterns of glucose metabolism different to other people but the effect of this on hoarding is yet to be ascertained.
For genetic causes of hoarding, studies show that 85 percent of people who have compulsive hoarding disorders have close relatives with the similar disorder and scientific research states that in all cases of hoarding, genetics account for approximately 50 percent of these cases.
In a similar study of the relation of genetics to hoarding done in 2007, unique DNA patterns in genes found in chromosome 14 were identified with people who have compulsive hoarding disorder. It was even found out that stronger unique patterns were present among people who have families with two or more members that have the disorder. The effect of these unique DNA patterns to hoarding hasn’t been discovered as of yet, unfortunately.
The precise reason as to why people engage in hoarding remains inconclusive and scientific research about what may possibly cause the disorder is still being done. One study attempted to find out if there was a correlation between being deprived materially in childhood to hoarding, but none was found.
Aware of the fact that accumulating clutter is a socially unacceptable behavior, hoarders still find it difficult to do anything about it and fail to seek medical treatment or professional help unless insisted by their families.