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The Link Between Clutter and Depression

Clutter and depression. It’s been proven that a cluttered home can equal a cluttered mind.  Dishes in the sink, piles of laundry strewn about, STUFF on every surface. It’s no wonder that we can feel down and depressed.

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The Link Between Clutter and Depression

Researchers at UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families (CELF) discovered when they explored in real time the relationship between 32 California families and the thousands of objects in their homes found a startling correlation between clutter and mood.  The resulting book, “Life at Home in The Twenty-First Century,” is a rare look at how middle-class Americans use the space in their homes and interact with the things they accumulate over a lifetime.

It turns out that there is a clear link between clutter and depression as well as our mood and self-esteem. CELF’s anthropologists, social scientists, and archaeologists found:

  • A link between high cortisol (stress hormone) levels in female home owners and a high density of household objects.The more stuff, the more stress women feel. Men, on the other hand, don’t seem bothered by mess, which accounts for tensions between tidy wives and their clutter bug hubbies.
  • Women associate a tidy home with a happy and successful family. The more dishes that pile up in the sink, the more anxious women feel.
  • Even families that want to reduce clutter often are emotionally paralyzed when it comes to sorting and pitching objects. They either can’t break sentimental attachments to objects or believe their things have hidden monetary value.
  • Although U.S. consumers bear only 3% of the world’s children, we buy 40% of the world’s toys.And these toys live in every room, fighting for display space with kids’ trophies, artwork, and snapshots of their last soccer game.


Since I was a teenager, I have suffered with depression and anxiety.  For me, if my home or any room in my home is messy, it greatly affects my mood.  Over time, I found that organizing (and the resulting effects of organizing) helps to keep the depression at bay.  I believe (and research on clutter and depression have validated that belief) that when I am organized or in the process of organizing, I feel more in control of my life an surroundings.

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Are you feeling depressed or anxious?  Is your home (or office) cluttered?  There may very well be a correlation.

Don't Miss Out on Any Home Organization Posts & Tips!

If your entire home is cluttered, just the thought of purging or organizing may be paralyzing.  Start by reading this previous post The Road to Organization.  In it I share tools to help you decide where to start and the basics of decluttering.

Once you begin the process, you’ll will feel a sense of accomplishment which may motivate you to continue.

Let me know how you make out and if indeed, reducing the clutter, reduces your feelings of depression or anxiety.

If you need more resources, I’ve found these to be good ones to help reduce clutter:


Until Next Time, In Him,


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The Suprising LInk between clutter and depression

Susan is a writer, speaker and the creator of Women of Noble Character ministries. She is passionate about helping Christian women live a Proverbs 31 life in today’s world. The Lord laid upon her heart to serve women to grow in Christ, improve their marriages and manage their homes stress-free. She provides tools and resources on her website for Christian women to grow in their faith, deepen their relationship with their husbands and manage their homes well.

She lives in rural North Central Missouri with her handsome and hilarious husband and a myriad of dogs, cats and chickens.

Susan runs on Jesus, coffee and not enough sleep.