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What to buy someone with depression for the holidays? Nothing.

I did not want to answer the door during my last major depression and I did not answer the phone.

So, what gift do you give someone who is in this kind of depression?shutterstock_191003018

Consider nothing. There is nothing you can put a bow on that will really mean much to someone in a deep depression. Jewelry, flat-screen televisions, perfume – none of these things will lift us out of our depression. Believe me, if we could buy our way out of depression, we would have done it by now.

Consider, too, that a generous gift is going to make us feel even worse about ourselves because we won’t be able to go to the mall and get you something. And, we will feel obligated to send a thank-you not or call to say “thank you.”

Still, you should give something. This may be the most important gift you give this year. Try this: Simple acts of kindness. Tell the person that they are in your thoughts and you hope they get well soon.  Tell them to text or call if they need anything. Then, show them how much you care.

Find the window that the person most often views the outside world. Maybe it is the window above the sink in the kitchen. Maybe it’s the sliding glass doors off the television room. Fill that space with empathy and love. Here’s how:

  • Build a snowman or make snow angels.  If you live in the south, plant some flowers outside a window where they will be seen. Put up a bird-feeder. Hang a little sign on the bird-feeder or snowman’s arm simply saying “Hi” and the person’s name.
  • Shovel the sidewalk and driveway when it snows.
  • Take out their garbage.
  • Invite them to everything and tell them to text or call if they would like to go.
  • If you have kids, have them make something: a card, an ornament, cookies, a gingerbread house. You decide whether the kids should deliver or if you should text, saying the kids left a little something for them by the back/front door.
  • Deliver a meal but DO NOT give a bottle of wine or alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant and might make their depression worse.
  • If they belong to a club, have the group sign a holiday card and tell the person they are missed and you look forward to seeing them soon.

Keep an eye on them but keep your distance – especially if you sense the person does not want your company. Send text messages and emails. Don’t overdo it. Just make sure they know they are loved, missed and needed.

It is that simple.

Woman looking out window image available from Shutterstock.



What to buy someone with depression for the holidays? Nothing.

Christine Stapleton

Christine Stapleton has been a journalist for 35 years. She is now an investigative reporter for The Palm Beach Post. In 2006, began writing a blog for PsychCentral called Depression on My Mind. Her latest blog, Addiction Matters, draws on her 19 years of sobriety and her coverage of the drug treatment industry in South Florida.

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APA Reference
Stapleton, C. (2015). What to buy someone with depression for the holidays? Nothing.. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 8 Dec 2015
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