Gift Ideas For Loved Ones With Bipolar Disorder: 20 Presents That Promote Wellness

Buying a gift for a friend or family member with bipolar disorder? Skip the standard Starbucks gift card – and choose something that promotes wellness. Below are a wide variety of selections ranging from $1 to $200 (you can find many of them at discounted prices, so shop around). All of my picks are products I’ve used personally, that my counseling clients have found helpful, or that I’ve carefully researched. 


1. Books about bipolar disorder: Education is essential for people with bipolar disorder. A well-written guide is a thoughtful gift. My pick: “Bipolar Disorder For Dummies” ($15.25). This book contains basic as well as advanced information. Every smart person with bipolar disorder should read this book for dummies. 

2. Books by people with bipolar disorder: It can be inspirational to read books by people who have successfully recovered. My pick: “An Unquiet Mind”($10.24).This is a classic memoir by clinical psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison. It inspires understanding and hope – and should be required reading for anyone diagnosed with bipolar disorder. 

3. Self-help workbooks: These can be a helpful tool, either for those who don’t have access to therapy or as an addition to therapy. My pick: “The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook”($12.95). Dialectical Behavior Therapy is an effective therapy for a variety of mental health issues. It includes learning the set of skills taught in this book – mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance.

Wellness Technology

4. Biofeedback device: Biofeedback helps people improve their health by learning to control their nervous systems. There are a number of quality devices you can use at home. My pick: EMWAVE2 from HeartMath ($199). This is a handheld, user-friendly device that gives feedback on heart rate variability. Just a few minutes of use each day can make a big difference.

5. Light therapy lamp: If your loved one is prone to seasonal depression in the fall and winter, they may benefit from light therapy. Light therapy isn’t appropriate for everyone and carries the risk of triggering mania – so it’s important that it’s used with medical supervision. My pick: TRAVelite from Northern Light Technologies ($200). This is the one I use. I’m sensitive to light, so I use it at a greater distance than indicated in the directions.

6. Brain game software: Cognitive functions like memory and attention are a challenge for many people with bipolar disorder. There’s evidence that brain games can be useful for cognitive remediation. At the very least, they can be a fun and challenging pastime. My pick: Happy Neuron($79.95 for a one-year membership). This is an online, membership-based set of games for brain wellness. The program tracks your progress so you can see improvements over time.

Sleep Supplies

7. High-quality pillow:Getting a good night’s sleep is critical for recovery from bipolar disorder. A high-quality pillow can help. My pick:BioSensefrom Brookstone ($79.99). Pillow preferences are individual, but a lot of people like this line. You can choose a pillow based on your loved one’s sleeping position (back, side, or stomach).

8. Sleep mask:Sleeping in a bedroom that’s as dark as possible is important for getting a good night’s sleep. Sometimes it’s hard to block out all light, so a sleep mask can help. My pick: Dream Zone from Bed Bath & Beyond ($7.99). This mask is adjustable and made of natural fabric.

Exercise Products

9. Indoor exercise equipment: Exercise is also important for recovery, and indoor equipment is a convenient alternative to exercising outdoors or going to the gym. My pick: Urban Rebounderfrom Urban Rebounding ($119.95). I don’t believe all of this “As Seen on TV” company’s claims, but their rebounder is approved by “Consumer Reports” and is a good value.

10. Online yoga classes: Yoga is an effective practice for both fitness and relaxation. A home yoga program is a good option for people who want to save money or don’t have a yoga studio nearby. My pick: Gaiam Yoga Studio ($19.99 per month).

Food and Nutrition Items

11. Natural snacks by mail:Healthy eating habits are another key aspect of recovery. Snacks are necessary for people who have to take medication with food during non-mealtime hours. They can also help keep blood sugar levels even and moods stable. There are a number of snack subscription services that focus on wholesome foods. My pick: NatureBox($53.85 for 3 months). This company offers nutritionist-approved snacks and customized monthly boxes – plus, for every box this company sells, they donate a meal to fight hunger.

12. Meal planning software: Planning meals is a challenge for some people with bipolar disorder. Meal planning software can help save time and money, reduce stress, and bring about healthier eating habits. My pick: Plan to Eat ($39 per year). This membership-based service has all kinds of features – you can take a tour on their website to learn more.

Self-Soothing Tools

I mentioned self-soothing in my last post. Self-soothing involves the senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste.Just for fun, I’ve picked one gift for each sense.

13. Sight: “ZooBorns” ($10.00). This is a hardcover book of baby animal pictures. You can’t go wrong with baby animal pictures, right? Plus, 10% of the sale of every book goes to animal conservation.

14. Sound:Relaxation Suite ($14.98). This CD features music by Steven Halpern, a renowned sound healer who composes and records music for wellness.

15. Smell:Nerola Orange Blossom Soy Candle from Pacifica ($22). These are clean burning candles by an environmentally-conscious company that supports local charities.

16. Touch: Worry Stonefrom Dog Star Designs ($1). These handmade stones feature inspirational words and designs.

17. Taste: Sweetened Natural Cocoa Powder from Scharffen Berger. Hot chocolate is the quintessential soothing beverage. This powder makes a delicious cup that’s not too sweet and not too strong. Hot chocolate contains some caffeine – which people with bipolar disorder generally should limit. The amount is very small compared with most coffee and tea, but this is not a good gift for someone who avoids caffeine altogether.


A donation to a mental health organization in your loved one’s name is a meaningful gift. Below are my top 3 picks.They each have a slightly different focus – but are all aimed at improving the quality of life for people with mental illness.

18. National Alliance on Mental Illness: NAMI focuses on all types of mental illness. To donate, go to NAMI’s donation page.

19. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: DBSA focuses on all mood disorders. To donate, go to DBSA’s donation page.

20. International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF): IBPF focus specifically on bipolar disorder. To donate, go to IBPF’s donation page. In addition, whenever you buy something on, you can shop with AmazonSmile – use this link to make a purchase, and 0.5% will be donated to IBPF.

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