4.7 min read

It hit the fan a few weeks ago when I posted on Instagram that a key to contributing to being happy for someone was to make the bed each morning.

I had a slew of people who said they were happiest when they did not make the bed or felt more relaxed just getting up and not having to do anything. The conversation rolled into preferring clutter or organization. That led me to discuss hoarding, hoarding causes, symptoms of hoarding, and why hoarding happens in the first place.

We will dive into that now, and at the end of this article, you will have a short self-scoring quiz to help you navigate some confusing questions you might have about yourself.

Interestingly, these individuals who shared that they enjoyed clutter more also stated that they battled anxiety or depression.

Am I a hoarder?

It’s that time of year when we open closets and decorate, realizing that we have “too much stuff.”

Is my clutter considered Hoarding?

Clutter is defined as “a state of disorder or untidiness,” but the term has no clinical definition. It’s unclear if clutter causes stress because many people with cluttered homes say they are happy and comfortable there. Hoarding, on the other hand, is a well-known mental health problem that can be debilitating. 

Anxiety, Depression, and Hoarding

People who hoard suffer from depression and anxiety disorders more often than those without hoarding behaviors; it also carries an increased risk for suicide ideation and accidents. As mentioned earlier, the people who preferred clutter on my Instagram post stated that they also had either anxiety or depression – some had self-reported that they suffered from both.

Is having some clutter that bad?

Many people find themselves struggling with clutter. It can be a frustrating process to sort through the mess and get rid of things you don’t want, but it’s worth it for a more organized space. 

Hoarding is a different situation altogether. 

It involves an obsession to collect items that most people would deem useless or unnecessary, such as newspapers from decades ago or trash that has been sitting in your home for years. These individuals might even resist other people coming into their homes because they believe someone will take away one of their treasured belongings without them noticing. 

Blurred lines

The difference between clutter and Hoarding is not always clear-cut.

Hoarding always involves clutter, but clutter is not always indicative of Hoarding.

Clutter is a buildup of items that do not usually provide emotional attachment- but might. Hoarding is an obsessive-compulsive disorder where the person can’t let go. Both can stem from various motivations, from holding on to memories to “I might use this someday.”

There are five general stages of Hoarding

Level One

  1. Light clutter
  2. Accessible entry/exits and hallways
  3. Animal waste is at a minimum in the home.
  4. Some areas of the house might be more open or organized, where guests usually visit if invited.

Level Two

  1. Avoiding people coming into the home as there is a sense of shame.
  2. Broken appliances
  3. Spiders
  4. Dirty clothing
  5. Soiled flooring
  6. Excessive animals and animal waste

Level Three

  1. Mold and mildew smell
  2. Obvious odors 
  3. Visible animal waste that is decaying or staining
  4. Insects
  5. Blocked exit
  6. The home is falling apart, in dire need of repairs.

Level Four

  1. Mold and mildew are obvious to the naked eye.
  2. Structural damage
  3. Animal waste is very obvious
  4. Infestations of insects
  5. More than one blocked hallway and exit.

Level Five

  1. Most of the home is unusable, almost just a huge storage unit.
  2. Human and animal feces obvious
  3. Fire hazards
  4. Basic needs are unmet such as running water, electricity, or a sealed roof.

The more entangled in clutter and feeling out of control, the more you might struggle with success.

Success requires clarity, organization, and a clear path- and the more you are in the chaos of clutter or feeling overwhelmed, the less the mind can focus on what it needs.


Hoarding and Clutter Quiz

You have a Y/Yes or N/No option. If the answer is iffy, go with Y/Yes

  1. If there is a new unpleasant smell in your home, even if faint, do you look for it until you find it?  Y N
  2. Do you recall having very strong attachments as a child to stuffed animals, blankets, etc? Y N
  3. If someone dropped in unannounced and you did not have time to “big clean”, would you feel comfortable letting them into the house for a visit? Y N
  4. Can you resist a sale? Y N
  5. Is your furniture and floors over 99% free of clutter or “piles” of stuff? Y N
  6. Is it emotionally draining or upsetting to have to go through closets and pare down? Y N
  7. Do you have a place for everything? Y N
  8. When you get a new item, do you have a place for it immediately? Y N
  9. Do you describe yourself as a “pack rat”? Y N
  10. Do others imply you have a lot of “stuff”? Y N
  11. Do you have a lot of items for a rainy day? Y N
  12. Do you feel you have nothing to wear even though your closet is full? Y N

Remember that this is just a self-screening quiz and is not a diagnostic tool. 

Scroll for results.








If you had more than two “Y/Yes” answers you might be on the way to Hoarding or at minimum, a little too comfortable with clutter.

If you had five “Y/Yes” responses, you should seek out self-help or professional help for potential hoarding or some underlying issue that presents itself as hoarding.


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