Depression is one of the most common health conditions in the United States.

Untreated chronic depression can interfere with your daily activities and may even impair your ability to:

  • work
  • go to school
  • socialize
  • enjoy your favorite hobbies

If you’ve been diagnosed with depression, a mental health professional has likely outlined treatments that can help improve your quality of life. These may range from medication to talk therapy to self-care.

Depression treatment costs can quickly add up, especially if you don’t have insurance, but getting treated for depression is critical.

Studies suggest that investing in your mental health now can benefit your financial situation over the long term by improving your overall health and ability to work.

Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about all of the estimated costs upfront. There are ways to save money without sacrificing the important medications, therapies, and other tools that can help you feel better.

Antidepressant medications are often recommended to treat depression. They include:

  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • tricyclic drugs

Your doctor will start you off with an antidepressant that they expect will work best for your individual symptoms. They may modify the type or dose if a drug doesn’t effectively reduce symptoms or if you experience certain side effects.

Below are estimated costs for some of the most commonly prescribed depression medications withoutinsurance. Note the differences between generic and brand-name medications.*

Generic nameAverage cost for 30-day supplyBrand nameAverage cost for 30-day supply
bupropion SR/XL (150 mg)$10/$20Wellbutrin SR/XL$228/$1,992
duloxetine (60 mg)$10Cymbalta$261
fluoxetine (20 mg)$4Prozac$490
paroxetine ER (25 mg)$40Paxil CR$233
sertraline (50 mg)$7Zoloft$329
tranylcypromine (10mg)$130Parnate$1,271

*These costs were based on information derived from as of July 2020.

The actual price of depression medication depends on:

  • the type of drug prescribed
  • whether you take a generic or brand-name drug
  • your exact dosage
  • your insurance coverage
  • whether you take more than one medication, such as bupropion with an SSRI

There are still ways to make antidepressants affordable even if you’re uninsured or underinsured.

You may be able to save money by taking a generic version of a brand-name medication.

Many pharmaceutical companies also offer patient assistance programs (PAPs).

These programs offer assistance to low-income households to help obtain their prescription medications. Ask your doctor for more information, including how to apply.

Depression treatment also often involves psychotherapy sessions with either a psychologist (also called a talk therapist) or a psychiatrist. You may need short-term sessions for several weeks or long-term psychotherapy for several months or years.

The cost of sessions can add up quickly. Each therapy session can cost around $100 per hour out of pocket. However, this amount varies depending on the clinic and whether you have insurance coverage.

It’s important to go to all of the sessions that your mental health professional recommends for therapy to be as effective as possible.

The following tips can help you obtain the therapy you need while keeping the cost down:

  1. If you have insurance, contact your provider and ask for a list of in-network therapists.
  2. Ask your doctor for therapist recommendations and contact them directly about their fees.
  3. Some therapists don’t take insurance in order to protect patient privacy. You can still ask for a detailed receipt with medical codes and submit it to your insurance company for reimbursement.
  4. Talk to your therapist about your financial situation. Many therapists offer therapy on a sliding scale depending on your income.
  5. Consider reaching out to lower-cost services for low-income households at your local health department. You can start by getting a free referral from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Therapy session costs are based on your income.
  6. Explore virtual therapy sessions. Online therapy can’t always replace in-person sessions, but it tends to be much more affordable. You can find providers via therapy apps as well as some insurance providers.

Self-care for depression doesn’t have to involve an expensive spa getaway. What it really means is taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental needs on a regular basis.

This includes:

  • eating nutritious foods
  • getting enough sleep
  • exercising every day
  • taking time to socialize and pursue your favorite hobbies
  • getting outdoors for fresh air
  • avoiding isolation
  • deep breathing and meditation
  • avoiding alcohol, nicotine, and other substances

Treating depression is important for your health and quality of life.

Your doctor may recommend a combination of medications, therapies, and lifestyle changes to help you manage depression.

Depression treatments can be expensive, but they’re essential to improve your quality of life over the short term and long term.

There are ways to make each of these options more affordable even if you don’t have health insurance. Talk to your doctor about your situation so you can get the help you deserve.