Is a Messy Room a Symptom of Depression?

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If your loved one, child or teenager has a messy room, it could be a symptom of depression or another mental health struggle. It also may be a sign they’re having a tough time organizing and decluttering. Messiness may also be a symptom of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – it’s difficult to stay on task when cleaning your room if your attention is diverted, right? The truth is, messiness may not always be a symptom of depression, but when your child is showing other signs of depression there should be cause for concern. In this article we’ll explore more about the link between messiness and mental health. 

What are the Symptoms of Depression? 

If you think your loved one may be depressed because they have an untidy room, it’s important to first identify the symptoms of depression. The truth is, a messy room alone isn’t enough to determine if your child is clinically depressed. In adolescents, depression is characterized by having some or all of the following symptoms for a period of longer than two weeks. 

  • Irritability 
  • Prone to anger and outbursts
  • Oversensitivity to criticism 
  • Physical symptoms: headache, stomach ache, muscle ache
  • Inability to get out of bed
  • Frequent tiredness/lethargy 
  • Lack of motivation 
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • No longer wants to participate in activities and hobbies that made them happy
  • Abnormal sleep patterns 
  • Partaking in strange or risky behaviors, including promiscuity, drug seeking, vandalism, stealing
  • Poor hygiene
  • Changes in appetite
  • Withdrawing from friends and loved ones

What Does a Messy Room Say about a Person’s Psychology? 

A messy room can mean different things. It can be a sign of depression or other mental health issues, like anxiety, or ADHD. Messiness can actually make mental health issues worse. That’s because clutter makes people feel stressed out. Think about a big room after a party. Cups are everywhere; party favors are strewn on the floor; it’s a big mess. Cleaning up a big mess is a big process. Mess can dampen a person’s mood and cause them to feel even more anxiety and depression than they had before. Messiness is cyclical. A person neglects cleaning duties because they’re depressed and then gets even more depressed because they’re living in a mess. Moreover, a messy room can cause you to feel overwhelmed. On the other side, messiness doesn’t have to be a sign of mental health issues. It can also be a sign of creativity. Sometimes people who are creative are also messy. This is especially true with teens. Teens may find freedom in a lack of tidiness. So, when looking at a messy room, it’s important to judge what else is going on. That said, here are a few things that messiness can say about a person psychologically: 

  • An overwhelmed mind 
  • A disorganized mind 
  • An anxious mind 
  • A tough time letting go of physical things 
  • A desire to keep things because of sentimental memory 
  • Horder’s mentality 
  • A tough time focusing on tasks 
  • A defeatist attitude (Causing poor hygiene and a disheveled appearance) 
  • Creativity 
  • A desire for freedom 

What is Messy House Syndrome? 

Diogenes Syndrome, also known as messy house syndrome, is most commonly known as “hoarding”.” The people who suffer from this syndrome are often known as “hoarders.” The syndrome most often affects adults over the age of 60. It is usually the sign of an underlying physical or mental health problem. People with this syndrome struggle to keep up with their home. They have a tough time cleaning and tidying. They are surrounded by clutter and possessions they don’t want to throw away. They may have a certain sentimentality for the items they are hoarding or they may just not want to get rid of anything. Hoarding is collecting objects even after there is no use for them. Some of the mental health issues that may be at play with this syndrome are: 

Why Does a Clean House Feel Good? 

Having a clean, tidy home is great for a person’s mental health. If your living environment is clean and orderly, it can do wonders for the way you see the world. Your perspective can entirely change because of a clean home. The problem is, having a clean home takes time and energy – it’s not something that can be achieved quickly. But, maybe that’s not a bad thing. Even though a clean home takes time, working on a clean home feels good. Cleaning is an accomplishment. It can feel therapeutic to achieve a clutter-free home. It’s also great for a person’s self esteem – knowing what you’ve accomplished feels like a pat on the back. Organizing your space can feel like an act of respect. Taking the time and initiative to work on your home feels good inside. It’s an act of self care that’s good for physical and mental health. 

In the End

A messy room can be a sign of poor mental health. Though, it doesn’t need to be. There are many reasons a person might have a messy room. If you’re depressed, working on your room seems like a feat too great to take on. But, if you do it, it can improve your mood and the symptoms of depression. Organization isn’t a cure for depression, but it sure can help. Tidiness gives you some control over the situation and a feeling of accomplishment. 

Here are some tips for cleaning when you’re depressed:

  1. Start small – Cleaning all at once can be overwhelming. Do one thing everyday instead. Pick one task. Make your bed. Clear your desk. Empty your trash. Do the dishes. One thing a day and you’ll feel that sense of accomplishment. The best part is, your space will start to be less cluttered over time. 
  2. Set a timer – To stay on task, use a timer for just five or ten minutes. Get as much done as you can and then move on. 
  3. Make it fun – Have a good time tidying up and you’ll be more likely to do it. Listen to music. Have your favorite show on in the background. Get your family involved. Have some fun. 

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