Battling demons of hoarding disorder

RAY OF HOPE: Newcastle psychologists Barb Noonan and Michael Bazaley run programs that help sufferers lift the weight of hoarding disorder.How would you feel if you were unable to have friends over for coffee, because you felt ashamed of the state of your home.
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Perhaps it had become so cluttered with acquisitions and project materials for future hobbies that you reached a point where your friends, and those of your family were kept away with excuse after excuse, theisolation leading to genuine fear that come the next real estate inspection, you might be evicted.

Welcome to hoarding disorder,added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in 2013 and recognised asan official mental illness.

It is estimated thatupwards of 5 per centof the population are affected.

According to the manual, sufferers experience “persistent difficulty discarding or parting with processions, regardless of value”, “distress associated with discarding items”, “the accumulation of possessions that contest and cluttered living areas” or and that “hoarding causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social or occupational areas of functioning”.

It’s prevalence increases with age and its origins are often rooted in adolescence.

Research suggests HD has a genetic and environmental component andthe total number of traumatic life events often correlates with the severity of HD.

Brain scans indicate people with HD making decisions about their own possessions have over-activity in areas related to judging importance and relevance.

Emotional attachment and unhelpful beliefs about possessions, and problems processing information related to such things asmemory, decision-making andsustaining attention are believed to be factors that maintain hoarding disorder.

Late last year Newcastle psychologists Michael Bazaley andBarb Donnandelivered the first hoarding disorder therapeutic treatment program in Newcastle with funding from Hunter Primary Care.

Bazaley saysindividuals who exhibit symptoms of hoarding disorder may find that they also have a tendency to continually acquire items which eventually clutter the home.

“This constant acquiring may in turn lead to conflict with family and partners adding to the severity of their problem,” Bazaley said. “Many hoarders may resist attempts by others to intervene in their lives or collections which in turn may lead to isolation and possibly other mental health concerns such as depression.”

Indeed, sinceits recognition as a mental illness, hoarding has featured on talkback shows, reality TV and therapeutic interventionist TV.

“Many of these programs actually traumatise and place fear into the minds of present day hoarders, making them believe that any type of intervention or treatment will involve dramatic forced eviction of their most prized processions and collections,” Bazaley explains.

“Our programfocuses on the individual management of the many complex aspects of hoarding. The 13-week course based on a US program called Buried in Treasures, developed by US expert Randy O Frostoffers a judgment-free environment for people ready to make a change in their life.

“By the end of our program, many of our group members achieved their specific goals.”

Bazaley and Donnan are facilitating the Buried In Treasures program again in late February.

For information email [email protected]南京夜网 or phone 4910 4005.