Mental Health Conditions Linked To Keeping a Messy Room

Keeping a messy room could be linked to a lot of things. Here are some mental illnesses a messy room could point to.

Mental health condition linked to a messy room
A boy in a messy room; Source: New Port Academy

Being messy already attracts derogatory remarks from people who think one should be a little neater but not many people know that keeping a messy room could be linked to some mental health conditions. If one is messy and dirty, people might link it to laziness, irresponsibility, and carelessness but how could these be related to a mental condition?

Maybe not for yourself, but seeing someone becoming messy and irresponsible all of a sudden should alert you that something could be going wrong. Experiences like disappointment, loss of job, and similar factors can make someone lose touch with reality and allow their rooms to get messy. While we blame it on them most times, these are signs that they might need some help.

I am a medical personnel and my years of studying Medicine were enough for me to understand how mental conditions lead to behavioral changes. Asides from the distress the mental illness would cause to the sufferer, behavioral changes are one of the first things you would notice in someone who recently developed a mental health condition.

For example, Schizophrenia has been linked to disorganized behavior, talking irrationally and illogically, as well as behaviors that suggest that the sufferer is afraid of some unknown enemies. Substance use disorder is associated with restlessness, sleeplessness, and anxiety, particularly when they have not taken the substance. Depression has been linked to social withdrawal, decreased interest, in previously pleasurable activities, and self-neglect.

Here, we explore the relationship between keeping a messy room and the likelihood of a mental health condition.

Factors That May Correlate A Messy Room To A Mental Condition

Having a messy room during one busy week does not mean you have developed a psychiatric illness. We all get very occupied sometimes. When this happens most times, you usually would have an inner feeling that you would find time to clean the place up. Fortunately, once the time comes, we often do well to reverse the messiness we allowed.

In what instances can you then stick your neck to say that someone keeping a messy room could have a mental condition? Here, we see the factors that may link a messy room to a mental health condition.

1. Suddenly changing from cleanliness to messiness

In nature, things that occur abruptly usually have more serious consequences. The same applies to someone who suddenly starts keeping a messy room when they were not like that ab initio.

Some people naturally prefer to leave their rooms messy and their furniture haphazardly arranged. In this case, they have always been in favor of keeping a messy room due to factors related to their upbringing, family situation, or socio-economic status. For this type of person, it may not matter so much that they have a mental condition. It is only a habit they developed and got used to.

A sudden loss of interest in your personal and environmental well-being can be linked to depression being one of the three cardinal features of a depressive condition. Others are a low mood and reduced energy. Suicidal ideation and attempt are other features seen in depressed patients, such that a sudden change into messiness should signal you to draw close to assist them medically and otherwise.

2. Being bothered by the messy room but not being able to do anything

One of the defining features of a mental illness is its severity and impact on your comfort, peace, and daily functionality. Any experience occurring in proportions significant to cause you physical or emotional distress is considered abnormal until proven otherwise.

Being bothered by a messy room you are living in means you are not comfortable in such living conditions. Naturally, you would find yourself making efforts to change what is causing you distress or change your environment, at least. However, a mental condition like depression can make you unable to pick up yourself to clean up your messy room even when it bothers you to do so.

While this may not be a mental condition, there is something like “being messy by proxy” where you lose interest in keeping your room clean because your roommate does not take cleaning seriously. You simply get tired of doing it by yourself.

Several claims have been linked to a messy room by several people. One, some people say laziness could be the reason for keeping a messy room. Others claim that intelligent people work better in a disordered room. But irrespective of what you choose to believe, keeping a messy room could be a bad habit or might be linked to an underlying psychiatric illness.

Of note, people with OCDs (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders) can get bothered about having their room messy even when it is not. OCDs can make too preoccupied with keeping a “perfect” room every second of the day. OCDs can also make an individual obsessed with a particular action that liters up the room, e.g, throwing things uncontrollably.

3. Not being bothered by your messy room

Personality types have also been linked to the messiness of one’s room. In respect of this, two personality types have been identified – type A and type B personality types. People with type A personality type prefer to have a perfectly clean surroundings and would perform less in messy houses. While people with type B personality type do not require a tidy environment for enhanced productivity and/or creativity.

Another natural assumption that has dominated most cultures is that ladies are neater than guys and that ladies are natural home-keepers. Recent research, however, has disproved this claim showing that there is no link between gender and attitude to cleanliness, even though guys are naturally more likely to hate domestic chores than ladies.[1]L. Taylor. Gender Analysis: Are boys messier than girls? | Semantic Scholar

Depression may be linked to a situation when you are not bothered about keeping your room tidy. Hopelessness and feeling bleak about the future are other features of depression, which can reflect not being bothered about the messiness of one’s room.

Messy Room and the Messy Room Syndrome

The “messy room syndrome” also known as “messy house syndrome” or Diogenes syndrome is not a recognized medical or psychiatric condition but is due to one or more underlying psychiatric illnesses that impair an individual’s ability to maintain order in one’s life. Several aspects of the person’s life including personal cleanliness and hygiene, household, finances, relationship, etc, are affected, and it could impact their quality of life.

People with messy house syndrome are referred to as “messies”. They may struggle to find things they need, feel stressed or overwhelmed by the clutter, or find it difficult to clean or maintain their living space. They may also be found hoarding useless objects they may never need in quantities significant enough to make the house inhabitable for someone else.

Messy room syndrome may be linked to an underlying presence of psychiatric disorders like dementia, schizophrenia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or obsessive-compulsive disorders. Prader-Willi syndrome, a chromosomal anomaly, has also been associated with an abnormal compulsion to hoard things including food.

What To Do When You Notice “A Messie”

Based on the significant distress messiness or messy room disorder can cause to the sufferer and those around them, it is important to take some action when you notice you are becoming a messie or someone else is. Here is what you should do when you notice someone gradually turning the room into a messy dump.

  1. Start a conversation: It is important to be empathic toward someone who is struggling with chronic disorganization or hoarding tendencies. They may not be in full control of the situation as you might presume. Approach them with an open and non-judgmental attitude and make them know that you are concerned about their well-being and if they would like to talk about their recent change of behavior.
  2. Offer support: In case the messiness of their room or house is closely associated with loss of interest to clean up or exhaustion, offer to help them organize their space and continue to provide a listening ear to hear what challenges they may be facing that led to them keeping a messy room.
  3. Encourage them to seek professional help: Counsel them about the need to seek professional help from a therapist, a professional organizer who specializes in decluttering the home, or a medical doctor/psychiatrist for expert management. Before you do this, you should ensure to emphatically and carefully make them realize that the behavior is abnormal without causing them to hate you.
  4. Respect their boundaries: It is important to avoid pushing them to make changes to their behavior. Also, avoid organizing their space without their consent. You need to make it come from their heart first before you make any changes to their space, otherwise, they might hate you for it. Instead of being too pushy and forceful in your approach, subtly and understandably lead them to make changes at their own pace

If you have always been messy and you are okay with yourself, you may have grown up in an environment where orderliness is not so emphasized. It is a habit you picked up without knowing but just like any other habit, it can be modified through determination and access to the right help, resources, and materials.

Suddenly becoming messy and unkempt may be a sinister sign that you are going through a difficult situation. Seek support from friends and family members you can confide in. If that doesn’t help, courageously consult a therapist or a psychiatrist for evaluation and solution.


Keeping a messy room and being disorganized may be linked to normal habits, personality types, busy schedules, as well as psychiatric illnesses. When messiness begins to affect other aspects of one’s life or last longer than expected, it becomes more likely to be due to a psychiatric condition. In any case, it is important to understandably give help to someone suffering from messiness, or seek help if you have been unable to keep a tidy environment lately.

Prosper Yole is a medical doctor, a seasoned writer and passionate blogger. He is the founder of With many years of trials, failure, and near successes in areas of relationship, health, business & entrepreneurship, personal development, and content writing, he creates quality content that resonates well with his audience across the entire internet.

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