Messy Rooms and Depression

Answering 5 Questions about Mental Health & Messiness 

#1 Is a Messy Room a Sign of Depression? 

This is a good question. Many people wonder, “If my child has a messy room, does that mean they are depressed or suffering from another mental health issue.” The truth is, the answer is complicated. A messy room isn’t always a sign of depression. It can mean many different things, like the presence of a mental health issue that isn’t depression, like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or anxiety. Also, if your child is struggling with organization and decluttering on a strictly foundational level, they’ll have trouble keeping things neat because of that. A person’s living space is a product of their unique expectations and personal preferences. Some people prioritize tidiness and others don’t, to put it simply. That said, if you truly think your child is suffering from depression there should be other signs and symptoms other than the messy room. 

Here are some of the other symptoms you may witness if they are truly depressed: 

  • Moodiness
  • Irritability 
  • Sudden bursts of anger 
  • Physical symptoms, including headaches, stomach pain, muscle pain
  • Chronically tired 
  • Lethargic
  • Problems getting to sleep and staying asleep 
  • Sleeping late into the morning or day 
  • Feeling sad or down most of the time 
  • No longer participating in hobbies and activities that once brought show
  • Withdrawn from family and friends 
  • Evidence of substance use or alcohol use
  • Messy appearance 
  • Poor hygiene 

#2 On a Psychological Level, What Does a Messy Room Mean? 

Psychologically speaking, living in a messy space can mean a few different things. Yes, it could be a sign of depression or other mental health problems – but it could also mean something different. What often isn’t recognized is the fact that clutter affects a person’s mood. Clutter in general is a big problem. It can even lead to more stress, anxiety and mood issues. So, what came first, the clutter or the mental health issue? The truth is, psychologically, a messy room is not good and steps should be taken to clear away the clutter. People get caught up in the cycle of messiness. Their room is messy, so they get sad; they get sad, so their room gets messy. In addition to depression, a messy room can signal: 

  • A creative mind – creative types often prefer not to live in sterile, clean environments 
  • A disorganized mind – your child might not be depressed, they may just have an issue with organization 
  • A tough time “letting go” – this is often seen in people with hoarding disorders, where the desire to hang onto everything is psychologically rooted
  • A hard time staying on task – focusing on a singular task is difficult for some children

#3 Is my Loved One a Hoarder? The Truth About Messy House Syndrome 

Hoarding things is part of a psychological syndrome called “Diogenes.” People with the syndrome have a compulsive desire to keep and save items. For it to be categorized as a syndrome the person’s desire to hoard has become disruptive to their everyday life. Keeping things, aka hoarding, has become illogical and unhealthy for those who suffer from this condition. Many times, the home of a hoarder becomes unsafe and cluttered to the point where it is uninhabitable. This is especially difficult when the person suffering from hoarding is older than 60 years old. For elders, messy house syndrome can become outright dangerous. There are coexisting conditions that often occur with hoarding, here they are: 

#4 Why Does a Clean House Feel Better than a Messy House? 

A messy house is full of disorganization and clutter. Being inside a messy space can invoke feelings of anxiety and even depression. On the other hand, a clean home feels good to be inside. Your living environment not only REFLECTS your mental health, it can also impact it. People want to be in spaces that are tidy and clean. It’s a natural human desire to be without clutter. Plus, clean spaces put people at ease and make them feel warm and inviting. When you’re having people over, do you clean your home? Or do you keep it messy? There’s no doubt that you clean it, because there is no better way to make the people in your home loved and taken care of. 

If you want to keep your home clean, think of it as a therapeutic exercise. Keeping your home clean takes lots of time and energy – NO HOME is neat and tidy without some work. Don’t believe people who have a neat and clean home, but say they spent no time cleaning. A clean home always takes work. But hard work feels good, right? It feels good to accomplish something and to see the results of all that work. Cleaning your space can be an act of respect towards yourself. It can be a strike for your own satisfaction and physical wellbeing. Start to look at cleaning your home as a way to improve your mental health and physical wellbeing. 

#5 What Should I Do If My Loved One Has a Messy Room? 

If your loved one or child has a messy room, you should look for other signs of mental health distress. Are they depressed? Are they anxious? If there is a coexisting mental health condition you should reach out to a professional for help. Getting to the root cause of a person’s messy room can be a challenge. Why is my loved one untidy? This is a question we hope to have answered for you in this article. A messy room can be a sign of mental distress, but it can also be a healthy sign of creativity or rebellion in children and teens. 

Virtual Treatment Center: Who Are We? 

At Virtual Treatment Center, we believe quality addiction recovery and mental health services should be easily accessible to those that want or need them, because ease of accessibility is what most often leads to success. That’s why we’re committed to providing top-tier virtual mental health teletherapy and addiction recovery services to all residents of California. Although we’re located in Orange County, our online teletherapy can be accessed throughout the state. In addition to providing addiction recovery services, we treat a variety of mental health issues and offer Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT),Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT). Our teletherapy sessions are done via two-way, live interactive video or by telephone. Therapeutic visits are conducted on Zoom most often, or on other virtual platforms that adhere to HIPAA compliance requirements.