Friday, December 3, 2010

Gifts for Someone Who is Depressed

Another re-post from last year.

This could be for the holidays or a special occasion or just because. The best gift is your support, but presents are nice too. The following list is compiled from ideas I found on the interweb and my own ideas. There are of course many wonderful gifts you could give to any person, but I tried to make this more specific for depressed people by choosing gifts that are not only presents, but will enhance their life in a healthy and positive way.

* Ask them to do something healthy for you -bake a cake, make a cd, play a song if they play an instrument. Some people might be more willing to engage in activity if they’re not concerned about the cost/benefit to themselves. Eventually, an individual has to choose to things by and for themselves, but a little help getting started can go a long way.

* Make them some homemade food. Self-care can be difficult when depressed and appetite particularly can fluctuate. Having nutritious, wholesome, and comforting food at hand can make the difference between a person eating or not.

* Pretty paper or a nice journal. There can be a lot of CBT homework and scheduling; having some brightly coloured paper might encourage someone to fill out their 3 positive events for that day, for example.

* A day out. Ask them to go for a walk with you. Take them to a movie or concert. Bear in mind, they might not be in their best mood. So don’t necessarily expect the outing to be overly joyous, but do know that even if it seems you are only helping a small amount, that amount can be greater to your guest. In short, don’t put expectations on them to respond in a particular way.

* A plant or pet. Things like pets you need to be careful with; they might not have the energy to train a puppy. Something like a Siamese fighting fish might be more appropriate. Sometimes when a person is depressed they can be resistant to caring for another person/thing. If the gift dies, don’t be angry. Offer whatever emotional support they need to take care of this new thing; it might seem a simple skill, but even the easy stuff gets difficult in difficult times.

* Something comforting such as a blanket, stuffed animal, new socks, or hot chocolate packages.

* A picture (or pictures) of them by themselves or with someone else doing something memorable. It’s easy to forget that you were ever happy when you’re depressed.

* Money, gift cards, or offer to pay bills. That alone can alleviate a lot of stress.

* Adopt a child or endangered animal in their name. Encourage them to write letters to the child or stay updated with conservation through the newsletters that are mailed to sponsors.

* Enroll them in a class. Exercise is extremely good and an activity like yoga could help with mindfulness while they exercise. But any class (cooking, academic) that encourages social activity and skill building is good.

* A book. But a positive book, not one with a sad story and a sad ending. Self-help books are also an option, but these can be personal. Give them the opportunity to tell you it’s not quite the right book, but they would like something similar.
Garth Kroeker has a good reading list.

* Music. This can be given either as a cd/mp3 or an instrument. I recommend Glenn Gould’s 1955 recording of the Goldberg Variations.

* A light box. Very helpful for seasonal as well as chronic depression.

* A comedic dvd or cd.

It might sound cynical, but when giving a gift that involves the receiver and another person, be sure they like that other person. The thought always counts, and they will most likely appreciate the gesture, but it’s also nice to have something tangible. I don’t mean this to sound materialistic, most of the above suggestions can be done at little cost, only that concrete reminders of healthy times/relationships can last longer than thoughts which can become easily distorted or forgotten by the depression. The other option is to let them choose their companion (for example, give them two movie tickets, but don’t suggest they have to take you. Do encourage them however, to take someone. Adding a social activity to a pleasurable one can make it that much better.).

*** Avoid things like alcohol

* This site has some humourous gifts, but exercise caution when practicing irony.

1 comment:

  1. Support. Love. Unconditional understanding are GREAT gifts.

    Wanted to wish you and yours a warm and happy holiday and new year.