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Compulsive Accumulators: What They Are, Symptoms and Treatment

Compulsive accumulators are people who have great difficulty in discarding or leaving their belongings, even if they are no longer useful. For this reason, it is common for the home and even the workplace of these people to have many accumulated objects, preventing the passage and use of various surfaces.

Usually the accumulated objects are random and can even be found in the trash, but the person sees them as necessary in the future or may have high monetary value.

This disorder can be easy to identify by family members or friends, but generally, the person himself cannot identify that he has a problem and, therefore, does not seek treatment. In other cases, the disorder is mild and, as it does not affect daily activities, it is not noticed, nor is it treated. However, whenever there is suspicion, it is important to consult a psychologist to confirm the diagnosis and initiate appropriate treatment.

Main symptoms of the disorder

Typically, compulsive accumulators show signs such as:

  • Difficulty throwing objects in the trash, even when they are useless;
  • Difficulty organizing your belongings;
  • Accumulate objects in all places of the house;
  • Excessive fear of being without an object;
  • Feel that they cannot throw an object in the trash, as they may need it in the future;
  • Search for new objects, even when you already have several of them.

In addition, people who are compulsive accumulators also become more isolated, especially in more severe cases, as they are ashamed of their own situation and the appearance of their home. For this reason, these people are more likely to develop other psychiatric illnesses, such as depression, for example.

These symptoms can still appear during childhood, but they tend to get worse with adulthood, when the person starts to buy their own belongings.

In some cases, the person who accumulates excessively can even accumulate animals, even having several tens or hundreds of animals that can live indoors and have few conditions.

How to distinguish an accumulator from a collector

Often the accumulator can be mistaken for a collector, or it can even use the excuse of making a collection, only that others do not see it in a strange way.

However, an easy way to distinguish both situations is that, normally, the collector is proud to show and organize his collection, while the accumulator prefers to keep secret and hide the objects he accumulates, besides having a lot of difficulty in organizing himself.

What causes this disorder

The exact cause of a person’s excessive accumulation of objects is not known, however, it is possible that it is related to genetic factors, brain functioning or stressful events in the person’s life.

How the treatment is done

The treatment for compulsive accumulators can be done through behavioral therapy, and the psychologist seeks to discover the cause of the anxiety that is causing the desire to keep things. However, this treatment can take several years to take effect as it requires a lot of dedication from the person.

Antidepressant remedies can also be used to complement the treatment, helping the patient to avoid the desire for compulsive accumulation, but in this case, they must be indicated by a psychiatrist.

Normally, compulsive accumulators do not seek treatment because they do not realize that their situation is a disease, so family and friends play a very important role in helping the person to heal.

Possible complications

Although the accumulation may seem like a little worrying disorder, the truth is that it can have several health risks, especially related to frequent allergies and infections, since the excess of objects makes the task of cleaning the house more difficult, facilitating the accumulation of bacteria, fungi and viruses.

In addition, depending on the degree of accumulation of objects, there may also be a risk of accidental falls or even burial, as the objects may fall on the person.

On the psychological level, compulsive accumulators are also more likely to be isolated and can develop severe depression, especially when they recognize the problem but do not want, or cannot, to undergo treatment.

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