Have you ever wondered if there’s a link between clutter and depression?

Have you ever wondered if there is a correlation between clutter and how you feel? Do you notice a change in your mood when you are surrounded by clutter?  Have you tried to clear your clutter but depression keeps you stuck?

While spring is a really wonderful time for many of us, it can also be hard for people struggling with depression.

Clutter can cause depression and depression can cause clutter. I say this almost every time I do a talk because I believe it is very important to recognize.


In doing some research the UCLA report I mention later might not agree with me, but you know I take a holistic view of clutter and inside clutter is affected by outside and vice versa, so I do believe clutter can cause depression. Clutter causes a general dampening of brain function, among other things, and sitting and being surrounded by clutter day in and day out doesn’t feel good.

There is also Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) a form of recurring depression in which the symptoms start and stop around the same time each year. Typically, they begin in fall or winter and subside in spring. But in about one out of 10 SAD sufferers, the pattern is reversed, with depression returning in the spring or summer.

If you have depression or clutter you can get caught in a circle.  Clutter makes you depressed and when you are depressed you don’t want to deal with it. It can be overwhelming and paralyze you.

Several studies also support the idea of a strong link between clutter and depression, especially in women. 

cluttered cramped workplace with typewriter papers
Photo by Dimitry Anikin on Pexels.com

In a 2012 UCLA study investigating the connection between clutter and depression Life at Home in the Twenty-first Century, researchers found that women surrounded by too many physical objects in their homes had higher levels of cortisol, often called the stress hormone. Men, on the other hand, are not bothered much at all. But, that doesn’t mean that some men aren’t bothered.

If you are clinically depressed, I suggest seeing a licensed therapist or psychologist.  This episode is not going to be able to support you if you have severe depression.

I have been depressed in my life, but this was never to the point that I needed medical attention, so these suggestions are geared more towards those times in your life when you have felt depressed and unable to get a lot done.

If you are feeling depressed now, know that it will pass.


What can you do?

Ask for support. Ask friends for help.  What can your family or friends help you with?  Make sure non-judgmental.

You can hire a Professional Organizer to remove the clutter for you and get organized.  At this point, you probably won’t be motivated read a book or take a course. Interview and make sure the right fit, ask a friend for help if need be.  Believe you will find the right person to find you.

Seek online support groups as well if you don’t have options close by.

  • Pray.  This can have a spiritual or religious connotation to you, whatever you feel comfortable with. Pray to god, the goddess, the universe…. whatever is your mode.  Ask for help.
  • Know you are not alone. About 3.3 million American adults have depression according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
  • Know that there is nothing wrong with you.  When I was depressed, I was angry with myself and felt like I should have been able to stop this.  There is nothing wrong with you; you aren’t bad for feeling depressed.  Don’t make yourself feel worse than you already do.  Can you get neutral? I am depressed. It isn’t good it isn’t bad. How can I move forward?  
  • Make a list of the ways you are awesome. Ask friends and family to contribute.   Little shifts add up into big shits.
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  • Exercise. Get moving. Many people believe that exercise is an anti-depressant.
  • Express. I once read that depression is anger turned inwards.  I personally believe that. Many times we have no idea of how really angry we are.  Get in touch with that. If this resonates with you, how can you express it? 
  • Mindfulness practice.  There are many ways to do this.  Start getting in touch with the deeper you.  See if you can find gratitude each day.
  • Maintain your routine. Get to your monthly women’s meeting, and try and keep up with the activities you do daily.  Getting out and seeing others can be incredibly supportive and doing routines don’t let us slip into further depression.
  • Journal. I am a huge fan and suggest this may help.

Open up windows and doors and get light and a breeze going. Nature definitely improves our mood, try and bring a little bit of it inside.  Fresh air and sunlight do everyone good.  Get outside if you can. I always try and spend a little bit of time in nature each day.

Do what makes you feel good. Once you take that first step to get going you can build upon that.  Put on music that makes you happy or watch Robin Williams movies.

Consider quitting sugar. Do your research.  Some people believe that sugar contributes to depression. They believe it lessens our ability to cope with anxiety and stress.

My last and favorite one! Adopt a pet.  I’d always been allergic to cats and then met Tony. For all those years I was single I wish I would have had a pet.


    If you know someone who is depressed:

    • If it has been a while, consider they seek professional help
    • Don’t judge. I say this all the time.  Honor them to feel how they are feeling. At that moment they can’t see the glass as half full.
    • Simply be there. Let them cry on your shoulder, and offer to hold their hand. You don’t have to talk.  Ask what you can do to help. Let them tell you.
    • Don’t minimize their pain. And shame them and invalidate what they are experiencing and what they feel. Could cause you to feel shame.
    • Don’t offer advice. Challenge for me because I want to fix something.  Ask how you can help. If they ask, offer and say what you believe is most important. Perhaps….and then offer your advice.

    Have you been depressed?  What actions can you take to feel better? How can loved ones support you?

    Take actions from today’s clutter-free living blog on clutter and depression:

    • Ask for support from friends and family. Be open to finding support online.
    • Pray.  Ask for guidance, believe in miracles, and watch for signs
    • Open up the windows and doors and let the sun and wind into your home.
    • Pick one item you can do RIGHT now whether it is doing some journaling, watch a funny movie, or pick an apple over a candy bar.

    DIY Options for Clutter Free Living

    Releasing Emotional Clutter

    Purchase Julie’s books, classes and decluttering affirmations on how to clear clutter from your life: https://reawakenyourbrilliance.com/shop/

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