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How Hoarding Is Linked To Bipolar Disorder

Hoarding is linked to Bipolar

Approximately 150,000 Norwegians have a type of bipolar disorder, an illness that’s marked by swinging from mood highs (“mania”) and lows (“depression”). And, linked to bipolar disorder is hoarding disorder.

It also sometimes presents with surprising and/or interesting symptoms. One of these is hoarding and having lots of clutter in the home. The link between hoarding and bipolar makes sense. People with bipolar disorder experience episodes of mania and depression which can cause them to battle to manage their surroundings. For instance, when feeling depressed, one can lack the energy to clean up the house. On the other hand, feeling euphoric during a manic episode can cause a person to feel too distracted to concentrate on clearing away clutter.

Hoarding can become a serious problem

hoardingThis is the case if the amount of clutter someone has in their home interferes with their day-to-day life. An example is if the person has packed so much stuff in their kitchen that they can’t enter it to make meals. The clutter might also be causing stress for the person’s relationships, such as if the person and their spouse are often fighting about the mess.

Hoarding and Bipolar Disorder Share Symptoms

Although it might be difficult for people to understand why someone would want to buy lots of stuff or clutter up their home, it’s worth remembering that hoarders’ brains work differently from other people. When researchers used fMRI machines to study the brains of hoarders, they found that hoarders take longer to make decisions, have greater anxiety and sadness. It’s worth noting that these symptoms are also common in bipolar disorder!

The Urge to Spend

Another way in which hoarding is linked to bipolar disorder is through the need to splurge. As Dr. Ronald R. Fieve, a bipolar expert who’s written a book called ‘Moodswingstates, “The lifestyle of the manic-depressive who is in a high tends to be a glorious scattering of money.” This can include spontaneous shopping sprees that result in spending thousands in one day. Collecting a large amount of items that the person then takes home can result in, or exacerbate, a hoarding disorder. The problem with overspending is not just about hoarding items but collecting a large amount of financial strain! People with mental health disorders such as bipolar disorder are more likely to be in debt when compared to the rest of the population.

Understanding Why People Hoard?

It makes sense that a person experiencing euphoria might want to buy something expensive, but what would drive the person to hoard? Hoarding relieves one’s anxiety, but then also creates more. For instance, when someone collects lots of things, they might feel safe or in control. The problem comes in having to discard or donate those things – the person might feel panicked at this thought. There are some common causes of hoarding, according to an article in Psychology Today:

Hoarders tend to suffer from anxiety and indecisiveness.
• There could be a genetic predisposition to hoarding.
Hoarders isolate themselves socially, so they turn to hoarding as a way to find comfort.

Finding Someone You Trust

Further isolating people from speaking about their hoarding problem could be fear of judgment. It’s important to speak to people they trust, and it could also be helpful to remind loved ones that hoarding means they’ve got a neurological conditionit’s not something quirky or weird. However, the important thing to remember is that hoarding can be treated.

Types of Treatment for Hoarding

There are many ways to nip hoarding in the bud. This can take the form of cognitive therapy. This is when a therapist helps people with bipolar disorder to understand why they hoard so they can prevent destructive behaviors.

Research has found that cognitive therapy is more successful at treating hoarding disorders than therapy and drugs used to treat obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). This is important if we bear in mind that hoarding can also present with OCD. However, your doctor might prescribe medications he/she thinks will help deal with your bipolar symptoms as well as the hoarding symptoms, which could be beneficial. It’s therefore a good idea to seek help.

Hoarding is linked to bipolar disorder as both share common symptoms, such as compulsive shopping and isolation from loved ones.

By understanding this link, hopefully more people will see both hoarding and bipolar disorder as mental illnesses, and support those in their life suffering from either or both.