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Clutter and Depression

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Clutter and Depression

Does clutter cause depression? Does depression cause clutter? At any given moment during a high-clutter period in my household, I may argue the validity of both of these scenarios. Clutter has a special way of inspiring stress and frustration, which, more often than not, abets the inability to combat the mess. It becomes circular–which came first, the chicken or the egg? In the end, it seems to snowball into a tangled mess of tension and depression and it’s hard to tell what’s causing what.

Chronic disorganization is not a medical diagnosis, nor is it a generally specified symptom of depression–but ask just about anyone who suffers from clutter if they feel there is some type of link, and I bet 99 percent will say yes.

According to an article in The New York Times, excessive clutter and disorganization are often symptoms of a bigger health problem. People who have suffered an emotional trauma or a brain injury often find housecleaning an insurmountable task. Attention deficit disorder, depression, chronic pain and grief can prevent people from getting organized or lead to a buildup of clutter. At its most extreme, chronic disorganization is called hoarding, a condition many experts believe is a mental illness in its own right, although psychiatrists have yet to formally recognize it.

Compulsive hoarding is defined, in part, by clutter that so overtakes living, dining and sleeping spaces that it harms the person’s quality of life. A compulsive hoarder finds it impossible, even painful, to part with possessions. It’s not clear how many people suffer from compulsive hoarding, but estimates start at about 1.5 million Americans, according to The Times.

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Read more: Feng Shui & Organizing, Health, Home, Mental Wellness, , , , ,

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

151 comments

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4:43AM PDT on Apr 25, 2014

The information in this blog is extremely useful for the people. social anxiety treatment

11:28PM PDT on Jul 28, 2013

My mother used to get angry when she entered my messy room. I didn't understand why. Now I feel claustrophobic when things aren't put away. Funny how that inheritance crept up on me. Decluttering takes time, but the sanity is worth it.

2:53AM PDT on Jul 15, 2013

It is overwelming to have clutter. Sometimes you have a tough time knowing where to start.

11:27PM PDT on Apr 16, 2013

Thanks.

7:16PM PDT on Sep 1, 2012

I have clutter only because I do other things and I don't want to clean up.

8:22AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

My living space is not large and there is what some would say...clutter... around. Since it is not hoarding and there are not clothes, papers, boxes and what not all over the floor...I just live with it as I know where most things are.

As long as a home is kept clean and fairly organized then live with what one is happy with.

If one finds things overwhelming if in a mood to clear things then tackle a small portion at a time especially if living with clinical depression.

Have a lot of knick knacks around, little treasures like small wooden boxes, a batch of milkweed seeds and colourful red leaves along with tiny geodes, pussy willows to name but a few.

The floor is kept clear and my blind cat easily navigates around with her whiskers and enjoys the pot of catnip that is placed by her tree stand (she no longer climbs it but the visiting kitties love it). Both of us are cozy in our cluttered albeit kept neat and tidy atmosphere.

5:05AM PDT on Jul 17, 2012

Interesting article , but sometimes clutter cannot be avoided due to lack of space!

4:01AM PDT on Jul 17, 2012

gr8, thx

5:47AM PDT on Jun 28, 2012

thanks

7:42PM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

It's difficult to get rid of stuff. Things come and go. It is as if nothing has changed. The hardest part is to sort between the multiple little things we collect and put everywhere. They spread like a contagious disease, and that is awful.

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