Gifts to Give Someone Struggling With Depression

Artistic Christmas Tree with GiftsWith Thanksgiving over and Christmas rapidly approaching, many people start to feel the opposite of what they’re supposed to feel this time of year. Instead of feeling joy and happiness, too many instead find themselves depressed.

Depression touches everyone. Most people either know someone who struggles with depression, or they have their own struggle. This comes as no surprise considering the that…

About 9.5% of the U.S. adult population suffers from a depressive disorder in a given year. (That’s about 18.8 million people.)

Depression has been a lifelong battle of mine, and those closest to me have struggled with what to do during my depressed times. For the past five years, though, depression has no longer held a choking grip on me. While still a struggle from time to time, I no longer feel as though I’m barely holding my head above water.

There are 5 gifts others gave that helped me reach victory over depression. At best, these gifts give a depressed person a much-needed lift out of the deep end, and at worst, they don’t do any harm.

  1. Acknowledge feelings. This does not mean to necessarily agree, but it does mean to acknowledge the feelings are real. To say someone who is depressed should not feel a certain way and then proceed to present a case as to why that is true only makes a depressed person feel worse. Simply acknowledge the feelings exist whether or not they are accurate.
  2. Keep advice to yourself. The worse advice I received was anything close to “Just be positive” or “Just cheer up.” My response was always the same: “Don’t you think I would if I could?!” When a person is seriously depressed, no amount of advice is going to bring them out.
  3. Value them and their ideas. To know my ideas and thoughts have value gives amazing encouragement. As with acknowledging feelings, this doesn’t necessarily  mean agreement. It does mean, however, acknowledging a person’s value and ideas even if their reasoning makes little sense.
  4. Listen. Sometimes a depressed person just wants to vent. Being able to vent to someone who listens without judgment takes off some of the heaviness depression creates in a person’s mind.
  5. Confirm loyalty. The person closest to me for most of my life stated more than once, “I will not leave you.” Knowing that no matter how low I got I would not be alone made a tremendous difference in my outlook. At times I didn’t believe it, and I tried to convince him staying was a bad idea. But he held true to his word, and I believe this is one of the main reasons depression no longer controls my life.

There are so many reasons for depression, and those reasons do need addressed in order to be victorious over depression. Along the way, giving the above gifts tells a depressed person he is not alone, that someone will listen and not dismiss his feelings and that someone believes he has value. These gifts can truly make a key difference in helping someone struggle through and find victory over depression… my life is a testimony to this fact.

DISCUSSION: What suggestions do you have for helping someone who is depressed?

See “Making the Church a Safe Place for Mental Illness” by Stephen Altrogge  for another perspective on this topic.

Be determined. Pursue simplicity. Find balance. Be curious. Be deliberate. Be intentional. Age gracefully. Make the most of every opportunity.


June 10, 2013 at 4:14 pm

One thing I always have to be careful of is getting depressed along with the person I am trying to help. I have to remember to give space, make sure I am spending time with God. A person who is depressed can bring you down and not usually intentionally. I am grateful for the people in my life who have supported me when I am down. I am also very grateful for a God who will hold me up and keep helping me to dig out of my hole.

    June 10, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    That's a lesson I had to learn the hard way. It happened with depression and with my marriage. I have leaned that I must be filled up. I must protect my heart. If it's vulnerable, I need to be cautious in helping others. I have kept my distance at times from people who I knew were really struggle because I knew I wasn't strong enough to help them. God gives grace when needed, for sure, but I also have felt him say "keep away" at certain times too. If my heart isn't protected, then I can't help others anyway.

December 1, 2015 at 4:08 pm

this is a tough one for me today Kari. I have spent countless hours with a young lady (38) over the past year-even to the point of finding her a job this past summer and having her live with us when she came home during the summer and then after the job was over-and yesterday she was admitted into the hospital for evaluation. Her history is an ugly one from childhood and I think coupled with either PTSD or bi-polar she is in the hospital. Not sure where to go from here.
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    December 1, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    All I can think to tell you is that as I look back on my almost 3 decades of battling depression, one factor that made a tremendous difference is having someone who never gave up on me. I didn't realize it or value it during my times in the deepest parts of the pit, but I definitely realize it now. It's one thing that motivates me to keep consistent for my youngest who has a bity of an ugly childhood too. You know how to reach me if you want to chat in more detail.

December 2, 2015 at 7:38 am

Do not think offering the answers to all their questions will help. Listening to and jointly exploring the real source of their feelings is a far better salve for the hurt depression brings than dumping callous solutions and advice. Patience and compassion… Good article and challenge.

Mary McCauley
December 2, 2015 at 8:49 pm

I think the best gift we can offer anyone, especially someone struggling with depression is our prayers. Our presence is also a gift, if we can do it without causing them more pain by saying and doing things upsetting. Prayer is ALWAYS a positive gift. Good sharing once again from your heart and your life. Thank you!

December 3, 2015 at 5:40 am

A open eye and closed mouth is a valuable gift for anyone to give someone. Thank you for this wisdom.
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