Recommended gifts for people with depression

Recommended gifts for people with depression

What are some good gifts for people with depression? As a person who’s had years of battling mental illness, I got asked quite a few times about what kind of present I would like for myself.

From a depressed person’s perspective, any gift that would help soothe my mental uneasiness is considered a good gift. However, not many people were aware of this. They just assumed that giving me “funny” things would be a nice idea. Well, I still appreciated the thought, but there are many other more sensible gifts that would “actually” benefit a depressed person.

The first step to successfully search for thoughtful gifts for a depressed friend is to ask them directly. Or you can just do a little research about what kind of thing – or activity – might ease mental illness.

gifts for people with depression

Personally, my favorite thing to do is reading since it distracts me from my negative thoughts. Therefore, buying any good book for me would be a huge bonus. You could give me a different book each year for my birthday and I’d still love you to death. Easy, right?

I’ve always wanted to put down a list of what might make a great gift – not just for myself but for other depressed fellows and friends as well. If you’re interested, here are some suggestions for comforting gifts and gift ideas to cheer up your friend:

Books – lots of ’em!

As I said, I love reading to the point that my room is literally a bookstore by now. They were my escape when I ran into negative thoughts, and provided me with a safe haven to return to.

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Other than those about fantasy worlds and scientific research, I also find self-help books quite enjoyable. At first, I thought people who read self-help – and write those! – are just pretentious snobs who think they’re better than others. However, as the name suggests, they did help me realize what I couldn’t see in myself. I was simply in awe of how they could put those thoughts into words so precisely.

Some personal recommendations of mine on self-help books include:

What I Talk About When I Talk About RunningHaruki Murakami: A book that speaks of how your inner voice coincides with the things you do. What you perceived as random thoughts, might have a more universal meaning behind it. All interpreted through the story of why the author keeps his habit of running.

gifts for people with depression

Notes On A Nervous PlanetsMatt Haig: One of my favorite authors on mental health, since his books are based on his own experience of struggling with anxiety and depression. This book is kind of like a self-reminder, of why my mental state is going wild, and how I can escape the dark thoughts. Another book of his is “Reasons To Stay Alive”, which also talks about mental illness – suicide to be precise.

gifts for people with depression

Maybe You Should Talk To SomeoneLori Gottlieb: A more professional perspective about mental illness from a psychotherapist. This book helped me understand a lot about my condition and how to deal with my bad mental habits, like pushing people away or feeling of not belonging.

gifts for people with depression

Some cozy (and fun) apparels

There’s no better feeling for a depressed person than the feeling of being protected. That’s why I always have the tendency to wrap myself with my collection of hoodies and sweaters. They’re sort of essential for the cold weather here in Canada, but even if it’s not that cold I’d still prefer a hoodie anyway. I especially love wearing oversized ones as well.

I think depressed people will also appreciate you giving them clothes with fun, a positive design that will cheer them up. Recently, my friend got me a really nice mental awareness T-shirt, and I think it was very thoughtful of her. Another friend gave me some super colorful, fuzzy socks and I just love wearing them around the house. They are so comforting and just so fun to look at.

Finally, a warm, big wool scarf is no doubt a great choice.  They don’t just act as fashion accessories – they provide such an unexplainable coziness and calmness. Pair the scarf with a wool hat and you’ll have the perfect winter gift set.

Scented items

These might be on the more expensive side, but they are truly one of the best gifts for someone with depression. Aromatherapy has tremendously aided my mental state and ease of sleep. My insomnia has caused me less trouble since I started burning some warm scented candles in my room before I sleep. The cozy ambiance from the candlelight was so calming as well.

These are my suggestions of scented items you can choose for others with depression:


So many to choose from! Bath and Body Work candles are the easiest to obtain, inexpensive but work wonderfully. The only downside is that the smell is quite heavy, and through time I kind of got tired of those same scents.

I switched to Sweet Water Decor for a more spa vibe and I’m still using them quite regularly in my bathroom. The most expensive kind is the perfume-ish scented ones, but I can’t deny that they smell wonderful. Jo Malone and Le Labo might be my 2 favorite brands for this type of candle.

Essential oils

Expensive? Yes. Good gifts for people with depression? Also yes. With an oil diffuser, a bottle of essential oil can last you for months (if you’re stingy like me). I don’t stick to any certain brands since they mostly cost around the same range.

Some generally great scents that I believe most anyone would love are lavender, lemongrass, citrus, and peppermint.

Self-care bath items

You can buy a whole set of spa treatments as a gift if you have the money – and the depressed person who receives it would be ecstatic. Particularly those bath items that have essential oil-infused – they will give the ultimate relaxing experience.

Self-care bath items

For some more reasonable pricing items, consider gifting body scrubs, facial masks, or bath bombs.

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Crafting and DIYs projects

The reason why I love getting crafty and creative is to have something other than my depressed thoughts to focus on. It’s also a way for me to find meaning in life, and doing what I enjoy does exactly that. Through my years of struggling with my mental state, I have tried various different projects and enjoyed them a lot:

Painting and coloring

Painting is a great way to relieve sad and painful thoughts. Whether you paint with bright, vibrant colors or a darker and more intensive pallet, it’s important that you’re able to force those negativities out for a bit. Get them a canvas together with some acrylic paints and brushes. 

Painting and coloring

If the person is not too artistic and prefers doing something that requires less creativity, a coloring book and simple art supplies would still be lovely.


A good way for me to both express my creativity and keep track of my health. I could note down how well I was feeling every day, and see my own progress of what I have completed monthly. The feeling of accomplishment and progress will help a lot with fighting depression.


Helps a lot in keeping me focused and motivated. It’s such a calming activity, and you get to make use of the final products! If your depressed friend expressed their interest in knitting, some colorful yarns are great as gifts.


Finishing a puzzle

I thought I’d find a puzzle frustrating, but it actually kept me motivated for a longer time than I initially imagined. It’s unexpectedly a great way to relax, and listening to music while figuring out the puzzle is such a good stress reliever.

A relaxing experience

Not all gifts need to be in a physical form to show your care and sincerity. The best gifts for people with depression might be some positive and relaxing experience for themselves.

Arrange for a trip to somewhere with nice and quiet scenery, and I’m sure it’d help calm them down. I’d love it if someone took me on a peaceful walk in the woods or along the beach. Book them an appointment for a spa treatment, or schedule them for a therapy session. These are simple yet thoughtful presents for your friend with a mental illness.

A relaxing experience

It’s important that you show your depressed friend understanding and support, that no matter what they do you’ll always be there to cheer them up. I bet it’d be a gift greater than anything.

I hope this post helps you decide on some thoughtful gifts for someone with depression. There are many other options that I haven’t been able to mention, but these are probably my go-to choices. I’d definitely love to hear what gift ideas to cheer up a friend you might have as well! 


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