Does Clutter Complicate Depression/Anxiety?

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We ran into an interesting tidbit that relates to some of our tenants at Mini Safe Storage, a San Leandro storage facility. A recent study at UCLA found that women who have a cluttered home or office were more likely to have chronically-elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Interestingly, men did not have the same responses. Of course, most women were not completely surprised by this revelation about the gender gap and stress.

It is interesting to ponder if this stems from a cultural cause or a biological one. While there has not been any determination of why clutter stresses women out, the fact remains that it does. High and prolonged levels of cortisol have been found to have detrimental effects on the body. As this hormone is responsible for the fight or flight response, it is not one that a person would want in their bodies for an extended amount of time.

Symptoms of chronically-elevated cortisol include:

  • Weakness in muscles
  • Frequent urination and increased thirst
  • Mood swings, increased depression and anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Flushing of face or increased bruising
  • Weight gain

Other life situations that can cause chronic high cortisol include being in a combat zone or even having a child on the Autism Spectrum.

For once, wouldn’t it be nice if something caused you to lose weight, have more energy, and improve your skin?

With the epidemic of depression and anxiety plaguing the United States, one wonders if our over-materialistic culture has negatively impacted our mental health. Approximately 6.7 percent and 18.7 percent of adults have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder or an anxiety disorder, respectively.

Extrapolating from the findings of the UCLA study, it stands to reason that in addition to other treatment plans for mental health, de-cluttering your surroundings could help as part of a treatment plan. Unfortunately, in many cases, women have found themselves in a negative cycle and the physical symptoms of mental illness impede their functioning enough that they feel extremely overwhelmed. They need help to take those first steps.

One of the most compassionate things that you can do for yourself is ask for help. Likewise, if a loved one is struggling with depression or anxiety and clutter or disorganization, go in and help them – without being judgmental. Talk of other things, let them know that you are there to help them and are enjoying spending time with them. It is important that they see progress at the end of each helping session.

Some have found that putting items into a facility such as Mini Safe Storage in San Leandro, CA, can provide a solution to clutter. By moving items out of the home for a while, the depressed person is able to know that these possessions are safe and see progress each de-cluttering session.

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