Is Being Messy a Sign of Depression: How Cluttered Environment Leaves You Pathetically Depressed?

Are you constantly finding yourself surrounded by a mess of disorganized belongings? Do the piles of clutter seem endless, and no matter how hard you try, nothing ever seems to stay in its place?

It might be more than just an inability to keep things tidy – it may be a sign of underlying depression. Keep reading to discover ‘is being messy a sign of depression” and how messiness can signify deeper emotional issues that need tending to.

Causes and Characteristics of Messiness

Messiness can have many causes and characteristics, ranging from simple disorganization to more serious mental health issues like depression. For some people, the mess may not be a conscious choice, but rather, it’s an outward manifestation of an underlying issue. In these cases, addressing the source of the mess is key in order to reduce or eliminating it.

8 Psychological Signs of Messiness

A person’s psychological state can often be reflected in their messiness. People who are depressed, anxious, or suffer from other mental health issues may find themselves unable to keep their living space clean and organized.

These difficulties can arise from a number of different factors, including emotional dysregulation, lack of motivation, and even perfectionism. Here are 8 psychological issues that may lead to messiness.

  1. Disorganization due to difficulty focusing or lack of motivation: People with depression often have difficulty focusing and lack motivation, which can lead to disorganization. This could be due to the emotional pain they are experiencing or the fatigue associated with depression.
  2. Excessive clutter: Depressed people may accumulate excessive amounts of items that can then create a cluttered environment. This is often linked to poor impulse control, which can be a symptom of depression.
  3. Hoarding: People struggling with depression may also engage in hoarding behaviors, which is the accumulation of items to an extreme degree. This can be related to feelings of insecurity or fear that stem from depression.
  4. Hyperfocus: People facing depression may be prone to hyper-focusing on certain tasks or activities, which can create a chaotic environment as they try to juggle multiple projects at once.
  5. Neglected cleaning habits: A depressed person often lacks the energy and motivation to maintain regular cleaning habits, which can lead to a cluttered and disorganized environment.
  6. Maladaptive coping strategies: People with depression may engage in maladaptive coping strategies, such as excessive shopping or drinking, which can create clutter and messiness.
  7. Poor decision-making skills: People encountering depression may have difficulty making decisions, both about the present and future, which can lead to disorganization or a lack of tidiness in their environment.
  8. Unsatisfying living space:  Depressed souls may also feel unsatisfied with their living space, leading them to neglect their environment or create an unkempt living space.

8 Physical Signs of Messiness

Messiness can manifest in many physical ways, such as clutter, disorganization, and neglect. While some messiness is simply a matter of personal preference or lifestyle choices, other types of messiness can be signs of underlying psychological issues like depression. Here are 8 physical signs of messiness to look out for:

  1. Cluttered living: A person’s living space may be cluttered with items that are no longer used, old newspapers and magazines, or even clothing.
  2. Piles of objects: A depressed person may have piles of items such as books, dishes, clothes, or paperwork in various places throughout the house.
  3. Incomplete tasks: A person facing depression may have many tasks or projects that are not completed.
  4. Disorganization: A depressed person might have items stored in places which make it hard to access them when needed.
  5. Hoarding: Items may be hoarded and kept in every nook and cranny of the house, leading to a cluttered environment.
  6. Unfinished projects: Depression may lead to the person having many items that are started but never completed, creating a mess in the process.
  7. Dishevelled appearance: A depressed individual may have an unkempt and dishevelled appearance, including clothes that are not put away or washed.
  8. Unsanitary conditions: A person’s living space may be unclean, with the presence of dust, mould, or dirt in various places.

A Messy Lazy Person With Book on His Lying Head

8 Main Benefits of Messiness

Messiness is often seen as a negative trait and something to be avoided, but it can actually have some benefits. Though having an organized and tidy home or workspace is important, it’s also important to recognize the potential benefits of messiness. Here are 8 benefits of messiness:

  1. Creativity: Messiness allows for more creative thinking and can help with problem-solving.
  2. Stress relief: Having a cluttered or messy environment can help people to relax and destress from their day-to-day lives.
  3. Comfort: A messy environment is often seen as more inviting and comfortable than a tidy one.
  4. Inspiration: Messiness can act as inspiration, sparking ideas that would not have been thought of in a more organized environment.
  5. Stimulation: A messy workspace may be more stimulating, as it provides more visual stimulation than an organized space.
  6. Economical: Having a messier home or workspace may save money, as there is less need to buy organizational products and materials.
  7. Improved productivity: Messiness can also enhance productivity, as it can help people to stay focused and motivated to finish tasks.
  8. Increased relaxation: A messy surroundings can create an atmosphere of freedom and relaxation that makes it easier to relax and unwind.

What is Depression?

Depression is a mental health disorder that can affect people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. It is characterized by persistent sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed.

Other symptoms include fatigue, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite or weight, irritability, and thoughts of death or suicide. If you or someone you know are experiencing symptoms of depression it is important to seek help from a mental health professional.

Is Being Messy a Sign of Depression – 8 Formidable Connections Between the Two

Messiness is often seen as an aesthetic issue, but it can be a sign of something more serious – depression. Messiness can be the result of not caring about how things look or feeling overwhelmed with life’s demands, both of which are symptomatic of depression. Here are 8 connections between messiness and depression:

1. Loss of Organization

People with depression may have difficulty organizing their lives, leading to a disorganized living space and messiness. Here are a few other relevant connections between messiness and depression:

  • Difficulty prioritizing tasks
  • Procrastination
  • Lack of motivation to keep things in order
  • Not being able to find items when needed
  • Not wanting to put energy into tidying up a room or living space
  • Avoiding cleaning tasks altogether.

2. Negative Self-Image

A depressed person may have a negative perception of themselves, leading to feelings of worthlessness and messiness. Here are a few other relevant connections between messiness and depression:

  • Feeling unworthy of having an organized home
  • Believing that being messy is acceptable due to low self-esteem
  • Not wanting to put effort into having a neat living space
  • Not seeing the importance of tidying up and keeping things in order
  • Feeling unworthy of maintaining an orderly environment
  • Believing that being messy is part of their identity.

3. Low Energy Levels

People struggling with depression often experience fatigue, which can make even simple tasks like tidying up difficult. Here are a few other relevant connections between messiness and depression:

  • Difficulty finding the motivation to organize their living space
  • Feeling too tired or drained to tackle cleaning tasks
  • Not having enough energy to keep things in order
  • Lacking the willpower necessary for tidying up a room or living space
  • Making excuses not to clean up
  • Choosing to rest instead of tidying up.

4. Avoidance

Those who face depression may try to avoid their problems and responsibilities by creating messes in their living spaces. Here are a few other relevant connections between messiness and depression:

  • Creating messes to avoid dealing with other issues
  • Intentionally avoiding organization and tidiness
  • Piling items in a disorganized manner
  • Not wanting to face the reality of their situation
  • Taking comfort in clutter.

5. Thoughts & Emotions

People encountering depression may find it difficult to process their thoughts and emotions, leading to messiness in their living spaces. Here are a few other relevant connections between messiness and depression:

  • Not being able to make decisions due to mental fog
  • Difficulty sorting through items due to emotional overwhelm
  • Feeling overwhelmed by too much clutter
  • Not wanting to part with items that trigger feelings of nostalgia
  • Using objects as outlets for emotions
  • Finding solace in messiness and disorder.

6. Memory Problems

A depressed individual may experience trouble concentrating and forming memories, leading to disorganization and mess. Here are a few other relevant connections between messiness and depression:

  • Difficulty remembering where things go
  • Not being able to recall the last time items were cleaned
  • Forgetting to put items away after use
  • Struggling to remember when certain tasks need to be completed
  • Having trouble keeping track of items
  • Losing items due to poor memory.

7. Self-Medication

People who are the victims of  depression may use messiness as a way of self-medicating and distracting themselves from their difficult emotions. Here are a few other relevant connections between messiness and depression:

  • Using items and clutter to numb negative feelings
  • Deliberately creating chaos to avoid feeling overwhelmed
  • Not wanting to clean up as a way of avoiding difficult emotions
  • Surrounding themselves with items for distraction or avoidance
  • Taking refuge in disorder and chaos.

8. Stress & Anxiety

People going through depression may feel more stressed and anxious in a messy environment, making it difficult to find the motivation to clean up. Here are a few other relevant connections between messiness and depression:

  • Increased feelings of stress in disorganized environments
  • Difficulty focusing due to anxiety in a cluttered space
  • Not wanting to enter a room or clean up due to feelings of overwhelm
  • Seeking safety in the chaos and disorder
  • Becoming overwhelmed by too much clutter
  • Feeling trapped by messiness and disorder.

A Relaxed Messy Person Surrounded by Clutter

8 Practical Tips to Organize Your Messy Space

Organizing a messy space can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right strategies and tools, you can easily transform any cluttered or disorganized area into a neat and orderly space. Here are 8 tips to help you organize your messy space:

  1. Start by sorting: The first step to organizing a messy space is to sort through all the items in the room and decide what should stay and what should go.
  2. Designate storage areas: After deciding which items will stay, designate specific areas for them, such as shelves or drawers.
  3. Get creative with storage solutions: Don’t be afraid to get creative with storage solutions. Utilize empty wall space or unused corners for extra storage areas.
  4. Label everything: Labeling items and shelves will make it easier to find things when you need them.
  5. Invest in quality storage containers: Quality storage containers are an invaluable tool when organizing a messy space.
  6. Get rid of excess items: A great way to organize a messy space is to get rid of any excess items that you don’t need or use anymore, either by donating them or throwing them away.
  7. Make organizing a habit: As with any task, the organization is easier to maintain when it becomes a habit. Set aside time each day to de-clutter and straighten up the space.
  8. Keep it tidy: Finally, make sure to keep your space tidy and organized by doing regular maintenance. This will help ensure that the area stays clutter-free and organized in the long run.

12 Appealing Tips on How to Cope With Messiness and Depression

Organizing your space can be key to managing depression and decluttering your mind. While it may seem like a daunting task, organizing your living space is an important step in taking control of your mental health. The following 12 tips will help you manage messiness and depression and create a healthier home environment.

  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful thoughts and behaviors. It can help you to identify any negative thinking patterns or self-defeating behaviors that may be contributing to your messiness.
  2. Medication: While medication alone is not enough to cure depression, it can help you manage your symptoms and give you more energy and motivation to tackle organizing tasks.
  3. Holistic Therapies: Stress-relieving activities such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can help you to relax and manage your stress levels. These therapies also provide an outlet for exploring any negative thoughts or emotions that you may be struggling with.
  4. Take it One Step at a Time: Start with small tasks like cleaning out drawers or organizing items into baskets and gradually work up to bigger tasks.
  5. Ask for Help: Sometimes it helps to have another person help you organize your living space, so don’t be afraid to ask for assistance.
  6. Set Time Limits: Give yourself a certain amount of time to devote to tidying up each day and stick to it.
  7. Reward Yourself: After completing a task, reward yourself with something small like going for a walk or treating yourself to your favorite snack.
  8. Make It Fun: Put on some music or invite friends or family to help you clean up.
  9. Take a Break: If it gets too overwhelming, take a break and come back to it when you’re feeling better.
  10. Get Rid of Clutter: Clear out items that are no longer necessary or bring joy into your life and make sure to properly dispose of them.
  11. Get Professional Help: Sometimes it helps to talk to a mental health professional about your feelings of messiness and depression.
  12. Stay Positive: Remember that tidying up is an important step towards feeling better and take this time as an opportunity to focus on the positive aspects of life.

A Man Doing Yoga


To wrap it up, it’s important to know that messiness can be a sign of depression and to watch out for it in those close to you. It’s also important not to judge people harshly for being a little sloppy or disorganized.

Allowing space for mental health issues, including depression, is essential in promoting positive feelings and wellness. Remain aware of the warning signs and if you or someone you know is exhibiting them contact a doctor or therapist as soon as possible.

Mental health is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly and messiness may be just one sign of depression’s presence in your life. By being mindful of this, we can all help each other move towards healthier and happier lives.

Frequently Asked Questions

What mental illness makes you messy?

Mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder can all contribute to messiness. People with these disorders may experience a sense of disorganization or be overwhelmed by the task of organizing their space.

Additionally, some people may have difficulty getting rid of items due to hoarding tendencies or compulsive shopping behaviors.

Why do I get so upset when things are messy?

Feeling upset when your space is messy can be a sign of an underlying mental health condition such as depression or OCD. It can also be a sign of feeling overwhelmed. Messiness can trigger feelings of anxiety and unease, which can cause stress and lead to irritability or anger.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by messiness or experiencing negative emotions when confronted with a messy space, it’s important to reach out for help.

How can I stop being messy?

1. Start small – take on one task at a time.

2. Set organizational goals and reward yourself for reaching them.

3. Make an effort to clean up after yourself every day.

4. Put away items immediately after using them instead of leaving them out.

5. Don’t get overwhelmed – break down tasks into smaller, more manageable steps.

6. Ask for help if you need it.

7. Identify any underlying issues that may be contributing to your messiness and seek professional help if necessary.

8. Practice mindfulness to better manage stress and anxiety levels when faced with tidying up tasks.

What does a messy room mean psychologically?

A mess can be a sign of an underlying mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety. Messiness can also trigger feelings of stress and overwhelm, leading to irritability and low self-esteem.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by your messiness, it’s important to reach out for help from a mental health professional.

Additionally, a messy space can be a reflection of how you feel on the inside – of your living space is in disarray, it could signal that your thoughts and feelings are chaotic as well. Taking steps to tidy up your physical space can help reduce mental clutter too.

Why are some people so messy?

Some people may be naturally messier than others or may have a hard time staying organized. Additionally, certain mental health conditions can lead to disorganization and messiness, such as depression or anxiety.

In some cases, messiness is caused by hoarding tendencies or compulsive shopping behaviors. If you are struggling with chronic messiness, it’s important to reach out for help so you can better manage your symptoms and find a sense of order in your life.

Is being messy genetic?

Though there is some evidence that messiness or a lack of organization can run in families, it is not necessarily due to genetics. Oftentimes, messiness can be attributed to environmental influences and mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and OCD.

Additionally, many people have difficulty staying organized due to life circumstances or hardships. If you find yourself struggling with messiness, it’s important to reach out for help and find ways to better manage your symptoms.

Are messy people happier?

Being messy does not necessarily equate to being happier. In fact, research suggests that clutter can lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety. Messy people may feel overwhelmed or disorganized by their space, leading to a sense of low self-esteem or feelings of hopelessness.

Can an organized person be messy?

Yes. Even the most organized people can have trouble staying tidy from time to time. Life can be unpredictable and sometimes it’s hard to find time to clean and organize. Additionally, certain mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety can lead to disorganization and messiness.

Are Anxious people messy?

Yes. People with anxiety can often struggle with disorganization and messiness due to their tendency to feel overwhelmed or stressed easily. This can lead to difficulty staying organized, as the person may become easily distracted or have trouble focusing on tasks for too long.

Are people who are messy more creative?

It is possible that people who are messy may be more creative than those who are organized, as disorganization can lead to increased levels of “creative chaos.” Additionally, research suggests that a certain level of messiness can actually boost creativity and productivity.

That being said, it’s important to find a balance between organization and messiness, as too much clutter may lead to an increase in stress levels.


Chantelle Pattemore (May 6, 2022). The Link Between Messy Rooms and Depression.

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