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Intervene

Hoarding is often treated as an obsessive-compulsive disorder might be -- with therapy and medication.

©iStockphoto.com/killerb10

Sometimes, flat-out intervention can be unavoidable. Hoarding, in extreme cases, can lead to health risks, both for the humans and any animals involved, and especially if the hoarded item is what others might call literal trash. There may be real safety concerns if entrances and exits are blocked or if flammable collectibles are stored near a heat source.

If the slow, gentle approach fails or you believe the situation is an emergency, the best thing to do is call for help. Removal of the objects and animals, accompanied by therapy, may be the safest way to handle the situation, but you'll probably want to call in (or at least get advice from) a professional. Most mental-health experts and organizations provide resources on and help for those suffering with hoarding disorder, so start there. A look online or in a phonebook for psychologists, psychiatrists or social workers should yield quick results.

It won't be an easy road, and no one guarantees results, but if you can get your loved one to accept there is a problem and that you truly want to help, that's a step in the right direction. Ultimately, the rest is up to the hoarder.

For more information on hoarding and other mental health issues, look over the links on the next page.

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