Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, impacting more than 14 million Americans each year. A study conducted by the CDC also showed that during COVID-19, almost a third of the population experienced either anxiety or depression. No wonder many Americans are seeking the best online therapy for depression.
There are many types of depression, which are often combined with other mental health issues such as anxiety or stress, making the condition harder to diagnose or treat effectively. The good news are, that according to the American Psychiatry Association, 80% to 90% of people eventually respond well to treatment. The below list of online therapy providers for depression, offering specific online depression counseling, can help you too.
The list above is a compilation of some of the online therapy platforms we review, organized in the specific order we believe is best for online depression treatments. Our team of experts thoroughly reviews and examines each company, and we update all our pages with any new, relevant information as soon as it comes out.
As with all our recommendations, we used the following metrics to determine the best therapy sites to help with depression:
With more than 25,000 licensed therapists and 3 million registered users, BetterHelp is the largest online therapy site in the world. Combine that with the fact they have excellent software and top notch customer service, and it is no wonder why we chose it as our overall best online therapy site.
BetterHelp offers its users a weekly live session with a therapist, as well as the option to chat or mail them at any time. From our experience as well as feedback we got from our readers, therapists usually reply within the day – although sometimes it may take a bit too long to get a response. If that happens, and you feel like you need better support, you can easily choose a different counselor instead.
Even though the overall package of services offered by BetterHelp is superb, when it comes to treating depression there are a few things they lack. The platform doesn’t offer any psychiatric treatments or medical prescriptions, so in some cases you might have to combine talk therapy on BetterHelp with face-to-face meetings with a psychiatrist who can prescribe antidepressants.
BetterHelp also doesn’t work with any insurance company. If your provider covers online therapy sessions, you can file for coverage independently, and BetterHelp will help by sending any relevant document you might need. Read our full BetterHelp review to see why we think it’s the best choice for anyone who’s looking to start with online therapy for depression.
Talkspace is another extremely popular therapy platform, and our choice for the best therapy site that accepts insurance. Even though it’s also a large platform with many therapists to choose from, the experience feels more personal when compared to BetterHelp. This is due to several reasons, but mainly because you get a free chat consultation as soon as you sign up, with the aim of helping you choose the best therapist for your specific needs.
Without insurance, Talkspace is more expensive than BetterHelp, and is also slightly behind when it comes to the overall quality of the platform. However, since they do work with quite a large list of insurance providers, you should be able to find a way to reduce costs significantly.
Brightside is a well known teletherapy company, operating in the U.S for over 5 years now. Unlike our previous 2 recommendations, Brightside is a smaller company – with its entire focus being treating depression and anxiety disorders.
Being a smaller platform means there are much less therapists to choose from, and we have also encountered availability issues more than once. Counselors are sometimes late to respond, and you might have to wait several days before you even get to have your first session. On the plus side, Brightside’s users get much more personal treatment and attention from the site’s representatives.
The biggest reason to use Brightside is the fact they offer a psychiatric evaluation alongside talk therapy. Their therapy + meds package isn’t cheap, but it’s ideal if you want to get medical prescriptions for OTC antidepressants (SSRIs or SNRIs). Brightside also works with several insurance providers, but significantly fewer than Talkspace.
Online-therapy.com is a fairly small online therapy site, but has one of the best reputations in the industry. The fact they have been around since 2009 and maintain an impeccable reputation speaks volume of the quality of service they provide.
What sets Online-Therapy.com apart from competitors when it comes to treating depression, is the fact the entire platform is geared towards CBT treatments. With CBT being so popular nowadays, naturally you can find therapists who practice it on every therapy site – but Online-Therapy.com is the only one which requires psychologists to focus solely on it.
This is combined with a plethora of tools embedded in the platform and design to help you on your journey to better wellbeing – such as worksheets, journals, meditation videos, activity plans and other features that help you track and assess your progress. Your therapist will comment on your “homework” and help you throughout the process – which is extremely gratifying and lets you take a more active role in treatment.
Studies have shown CBT is one of the most effective ways to combat depression. This is because the whole technique focuses on finding and changing negative thought patterns – which is both a key symptom and cause of depression. Patients usually report improvement within 10 to 15 sessions of treatment.
Read our full Online-Therapy.com review and find out why we like it so much for people who prefer a CBT-focused treatment for their depression.
Unlike the sites above, HealthSapiens is a general telehealth service and isn’t solely focused on therapy. What we like about it though, is that when compared to other similar platforms (such as Amwell or MDLive for example) – their therapy section is very well developed and they view it as a much more integral part of their service package.
The counseling package costs $197 a month, and in return you get 6 live sessions with a therapist. This isn’t the cheapest option out there – but it is the best value for money. Read our full HealthSapiens review or our guide for the best affordable online therapy to learn more.
ReGain is a subsidiary of BetterHelp, designed specifically for couples therapy and relationship issues. You can create an account and invite your partner if you want to deal with depression as a couple, or you can get help by yourself if you are trying to deal with issues in a relationship that make you feel depressed.
The site has only 1 subscription plan, the price varies depending on the duration. If you opt for the monthly subscription, the most popular option, you’ll pay $65 a week assuming you don’t qualify for their financial aid programs. In return, you get access to a weekly live session with a therapist of your choice, as well as daily support and responses based on your needs.
Same as BetterHelp, ReGain does not work with any insurance provider. Still, the rates are very competitive, especially if you opt for the longer plans and not the weekly one. It is by far the best couples therapy site in the U.S, making it the perfect place to go to if one or both partners are dealing with depression. If you want to learn more, read our full ReGain review.
Another BetterHelp subsidiary, as the name suggests this one is aimed towards providing mental health services to kids aged 13 and above. Studies show teenagers are extremely prone to suffering from depression, and almost half of those who suffer from chronic depression experience their first outburst as young adults.
The parent can create an account and invite the teen to join the platform. They will take care of payments and can stand in direct contact with the therapist, but that’s it. They can’t join sessions unless the kid invites them, and everything discussed between the patient and therapist is of course confidential – unless the counselor feels there’s a clear and immediate danger to the child’s wellbeing.
Very much like the other BetterHelp platforms, Teen Counseling only has 1 subscription plan which costs $80 per week. Insurance isn’t available, but you can get as much as a 40% discount by applying for their financial aid plans. Read our guide for the best teen therapy sites or our full Teen Counseling review for more information.
Sesame is an exciting and new telehealth platform, with a strong dedication to mental health. We can easily see it go up their list as they continue to grow and improve upon their services even further. For now, the main thing we like about this site is the fact you can see a therapist pretty much as soon as you sign up.
Sometimes depression can feel overwhelming and can be accompanied by a growing wave of anxiety. In such cases, we need to see someone as soon as possible, and hopefully get some reassurance and guidance. Sesame Care does just that – you can see a psychologist, undergo a psychiatric evaluation or get medical prescriptions – all in the same day.
That said, there are also a few issues with the service currently. They do not have a mobile app, and don’t work in some states. In some of the other states where they do operate, the number of available counselors is extremely limited. You can read our Sesame Care review to get the full picture.
As mentioned, depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the modern era. Despite that, and despite being heavily researched, there’s still much we don’t know about the condition. Unlike anxiety or stress, the 2 other common conditions people suffer from – scientists are still not sure what exactly causes depression, and what’s the best way to treat it.
One of the reasons is there are many different types of clinical depression, and these often interchange and mix. This makes diagnosis more difficult, as well as treatment. Sure, it’s easier to tell when someone is suffering from a major depression, and since it feels like such a significant, life changing event, it’s also somewhat easier for patients to garner the motivation to treat it, and usually your close environment takes it more seriously as well.
But what about another extremely common type of depression – Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)? Also known as dysthymia, it usually has very mild symptoms and affects your life in a much more subtle way. People with mild depression can still be highly functioning adults, and often won’t even realize they suffer from a condition which could be treated.
Depression is often accompanied by feelings of shame, guilt, low self esteem and more. This is especially relevant for specific types of the condition, such as postpartum depression for example, where mothers feel like they “should” not be experiencing those negative emotions and often try to hide them.
Contrary to a popular misconception that has spread in the last decade or so, depression isn’t solely a chemical imbalance in the brain. There are many other causes for depression besides a genetic tendency – abuse, addiction, life changing events and more. Antidepressants are highly effective and help a lot of people get better, but they are not some magic pill that makes it all go away. In many cases, medication is used simply to stabilize the patient and alleviate symptoms, before the actual treatment can begin.
Lastly, it might be hard sometimes to differentiate between depression and natural human feelings such as sadness or grief. Many people suffer from extreme pain and sadness during grief and getting professional help is of course welcome. But the main difference is, with grief, those “negative” emotions aren’t persistent. It’s important to note though that grief and depression can definitely co-exist, so if you are in extreme distress and in need of help don’t hesitate to contact a therapist.
Despite there being many types of depression, and the fact each person experiences it in a slightly different manner, there are a few common symptoms most people share:
As with any disease, the first step is proper diagnosis. It’s important to note that people may experience symptoms of depression, with the cause actually being physical rather than mental. For example, thyroid dysfunction or other hormonal imbalances are known to lead to depression. To rule these out, the first step should be getting an extensive blood test.
Assuming there’s no physical cause, your therapist will talk to you and together you’ll decide on an appropriate treatment plan for depression. This usually involves psychotherapy, medication or a combination of both.
It’s important you realize this is a process and it may take time. There’s no clear-cut treatment for depression and each person reacts differently when starting out. This will mostly be a trial and error process, but generally speaking you can expect to feel some relief within 2 to 3 months.
Online therapy has been proven to be just as effective as face to face treatment when it comes to dealing with depression. CBT in particular is a treatment technique which translates very well into the virtual realm – since it heavily relies on active participation and “off session” work from the patient to begin with.
If you have already been diagnosed with depression, then a place such as BetterHelp is great for managing your condition and steadily improving your situation. If you are just starting out, then perhaps a site such as Sesame Care is actually better – since you can not only book virtual therapy sessions, but also psychiatric evaluations, and meet a counselor face to face. Being diagnosed in a face to face setting is not a must, but many people find it to be more comfortable and meaningful.
Overall, no matter which therapy site you choose, you are very likely to be able to get help with your depression and dramatically improve your wellbeing. The most important thing is to take that first, difficult and brave step and get started.
If you prefer to start slowly and test the waters, there are a few good places where you can get some basic help for free. In the long run, these can’t substitute meeting a professional therapist and getting proper treatment – but they can certainly help with mild cases of depression and help you deal with some of the symptoms.
7 Cups is a community based platform that lets you join support groups or chat with people who are going through the same thing as you are. Once you feel ready, they also have a counseling program which only costs $150 a month. You can read our detailed 7 Cups review here.
Another good option is CIMHS – a platform solely dedicated to free online therapy for depression. This is a Canadian non-profit, but is also available to U.S citizens. CIMHS is a great tool for managing depression and learning to live with, through various self help tools and exercises. You can visit their site by clicking this link.
Lastly, there are also a plethora of free mental health apps, some of which are specifically designed to help people manage depression and to improve and track their mood. Check our list of the best mental health apps for a few suggestions on where to start.
Online therapy is extremely effective in helping you deal with depression and improving your long term wellbeing. The biggest upside it offers when compared to traditional therapy is the fact it is much easier to get started with and requires less mental resources.
Taking the first step is often the hardest, and with online therapy sites this becomes much easier. You can sign up with BetterHelp or Talkspace in a minute or less, choose a therapist and meet with them in the next few days. A site such as Sesame Care even takes it a step further, by allowing you to book a meeting on the same day you sign up.
That said, online therapy is not suitable for people who are in an emergency situation and are suffering from severe or psychotic depression. In such cases, you should go to the nearest hospital and get immediate help there. If you are feeling suicidal and might be a danger to yourself or others, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 as soon as possible.