Clutter and depression

I’ve got two friends who deal with serious depression issues.

Both of them also deal with uncontrolled spending, eating, debt and clutter problems. I can’t help but think that these problems are all one and the same.

We don’t just buy things when we need them in our society. We spend to make ourselves feel better, to try to convince ourselves we’re something other than we are, to impress our friends, to create an image…the list goes on. Most of our buying isn’t to do with need.

Neither is our eating. Food is tied to social events, birthdays, culture and religious celebrations, generosity (e.g. a parent giving food to their children), happiness (the ads on TV that tell us a chocolate bar will make us feel good) – it’s not just about physical hunger.

All of this results in debt, overweight, clutter that we can’t control in our homes – a huge downwards spiral that can lead to depression. So what do we do about it? We eat more to feel better, we buy more to heal the hole inside ourselves that we don’t understand, we give more gifts we can’t afford to make ourselves feel better about ourselves because we are generous to others.

I went on a road trip with some friends a couple of years ago. I was the only person in the car not on anti-depressants. These were all healthy young women, all below 30, all on drugs to deal with their lives. It was awful.

It made me sad, and I couldn’t help wondering why. I didn’t ask, of course. But I felt a strong empathy with my friends. I care about them. And I wondered how many others in our society are also on anti-depressants.

What is happening in our world, and why? What can we do to heal ourselves? How can we help our friends and support them?

I believe not giving gifts is part of the answer. Not pressuring friends to go eat out and spend more money is also part of the solution.

Maybe if we see a friend in need, just being there for them is a good start. Don’t say anything, but just invite them over for a cup of tea and a chat. Be a friendly ear, and a quiet confidante. Be a friend. Don’t offer help, but if they ask, be available.

Gandhi said, Be the change you want to see in the world. I think decluttering and leading a simple, debt-free life is a big part of that.


If we have something new, don’t show it off. Instead, being frugal and humble about what we have and who we are is a better, healthier path.

I think the cure for depression is strong community, and stepping away from consumerism. Finding health in a simple diet and a simple life. I’m not saying it’s the complete solution, but it sure can’t hurt.

We live in a fractured world where too many people judge each other by what they own. Maybe we should start caring for each other and accepting who we are instead.

These cluttered lives we lead are making us sick and sad. It’s time we embraced a simple, wholesome life. And it’s time we learned how to be good friends to those we love again.


  1. It’s hard to tell which came first: consumerism or mental illness. Does the first create the second, or is the first the way people “cure” the second? Or both? In any case, you are right about the fact that mental illness is widespread… and consumerism certainly isn’t the way to well-being. Good post.


    1. I think consumerism causes mental illness. Not all mental illness, but certainly a lot of instances of it. Consumerism encourages us to compare ourselves to each other, to want what we don’t have, and to feel insufficient. All of that is going to lead to problems and misery.


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