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The COVID-19 pandemic
Statistics like that make platforms like Brightside all the more appealing. Brightside is an online therapy service treating different kinds of anxiety and depression.
In our review, we’re covering everything you need to know about Brightside, including their products and services, pros and cons, how they stack up to the competition, and what real users think.
Brightside is an online therapy platform designed to help people ages 18 and older in the United States who are experiencing issues related to anxiety and depression. Brightside offers remote care only, and their therapy and medication plans are currently available in all 50 states.
According to Brightside, 85 percent of their members feel better within 12 weeks. Brightside attributes these outcomes to their comprehensive, multi-approach to care.
- designed for simplicity, convenience, and results
- providers include certified therapists and psychiatrists
- medication available as deemed appropriate
- mix of therapy, self-care tools, and medication
- insurance accepted
- reasonably priced
- may lack the more personal touch of in-person care
- not suitable for everyone
Brightside might be a good option if you need the flexibility of online therapy and are looking to address various symptoms of depression or anxiety. People in need of short-term therapy who hope to develop skills to navigate challenging issues or emotions in their lives may find exactly what they need from Brightside. Brightside states providers can offer treatments for:
- bipolar 2
- generalized anxiety disorder
- major depressive disorder
- obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- panic disorder
- postpartum depression
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
- seasonal affective disorder (sad)
- social anxiety disorder
However, because it’s an online therapy service specifically for issues relating to depression and anxiety, Brightside isn’t for everyone. The platform outlines a list of conditions and situations for which it isn’t well suited, which include:
- people who have recently attempted or are actively planning suicide
- ongoing self-harm behavior
- recent involuntary hospitalization for psychiatric reasons
- other types of bipolar disorder
- symptoms of mania
- symptoms of psychosis
- substance abuse issues
- borderline personality disorder
- eating disorder with high risk symptoms
- kidney or liver disease, seizures, or long QT
Brightside cautions that this isn’t a complete list, and they do not treat or prescribe for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). If you’re navigating these issues, Brightside recommends finding in-person care.
Brightside offers three treatment approaches for depression:
- Self-care program. This free program is accessible to all Brightside members and is designed to help people build resilience and complement the platform’s therapy and medication options.
- Therapy. Members receive private weekly therapy video sessions with a qualified professional, plus unlimited messaging.
- Medication. Psychiatric professionals at Brightside can evaluate, diagnose, and personalize treatment plans for members. That may include antidepressant medication that will be delivered monthly. Providers monitor member care and adjust treatment as necessary. Note that not all members are prescribed medications.
Brightside’s evidence-based therapy includes four video sessions per month, unlimited messaging, and interactive lessons from the self-care program. A Brightside subscription includes one 30-minute video appointment each week with a licensed therapist, plus unlimited messaging. Your first appointment is 45 minutes. The length of these sessions is shorter than a typical therapy session, which can range from 50 to 60 minutes. Members can also purchase additional video sessions for $59 each.
Along with the video therapy sessions, therapists also guide members in completing personalized, self-paced audio lessons and exercises. The lessons and exercises can guide you to skills and habits designed to help improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. You can share feedback about what’s helpful.
If you’ve opted for Brightside’s medication plan, a psychiatric professional will conduct a comprehensive video consultation. These conversations typically last roughly 15 minutes, which is enough time to review your situation, discuss your care plan, and answer any questions.
If a provider believes your situation warrants medication, it will be prescribed and delivered to your door. Your provider will authorize monthly refills. You’ll need to check in with your provider about your symptoms and side effects weekly so that they can monitor your progress and adjust your care plan as necessary.
Members receiving medications through Brightside also have access to the self-care program.
Medication and therapy
The medication and therapy plan combines all of the features of both care plans. In addition to medication, members also receive unlimited messaging, a weekly video session with a licensed therapist, and access to the self-care program.
Getting started on Brightside begins with a free assessment. First, you’ll complete a brief questionnaire with clinical questions relating to how you’re feeling and what you’re hoping to achieve, including whether you’re open to therapy, medication, or both. You’ll see your results and receive a personalized treatment recommendation.
Then, you can choose a plan and schedule your first session to meet your provider. Appointments are available within 48 hours of your free assessment.
Full prices are shown in the table below. The first month is typically offered at a discounted rate.
|Therapy||Medication||Therapy and medication|
|Ongoing monthly cost||$299||$349 plus pharmacy copay if you have insurance or $15 per medication||$349 plus pharmacy copay if you have insurance or $15 per medication|
Additional video therapy sessions cost $59 each.
Brightside does accept insurance. But if you have insurance, you’ll need to confirm coverage and eligibility in your area.
If your plan covers Brightside care, you’ll be responsible for copays, coinsurance, deductibles, and prescription costs associated with your plan. It’s a good idea to contact your health insurance company to verify that your care will be covered.
Brightside also accepts payments from health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs).
Brightside follows industry best practices to keep all information confidential. The platform uses encryption to secure all data and is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Your prescribing provider is the only one who has access to your information.
There are over 1,800 reviews on the Brightside website, with a 4.5-star rating. Customers mention ease of use, excellent providers, accessibility, convenience, and rapid response time. Many share that they’re feeling a big improvement.
Negative feedback is minimal, but some people describe Brightside as expensive and impersonal.
Brightside is not accredited with the Better Business Bureau, and they currently have an F rating. There are three customer reviews, with a 1-star rating.
At Trustpilot, a third-party review platform, there are two reviews with an average 2.9-star rating.
Brightside has a generally positive reputation. While you can find negative comments about their service, that’s true of any business. Brightside appears to be largely transparent about their services, who will benefit most from the platform, those who aren’t a good fit, what it costs, and what to generally expect before getting started.
|Services offered||online therapy and medication||online therapy||online therapy and medication||online therapy||in-person and online therapy|
|Pricing||$95–$349 per month depending on plan||$60–$90 per week, billed every 4 weeks||$85–$325 per month depending on plan||$39.95–$79.95 per week depending on plan||varies depending on service, but sessions average $85 per hour|
|Insurance accepted||yes||no||yes||no, but itemized receipts are available to request reimbursement||yes|
Can Brightside prescribe medication?
Yes. Brightside has psychiatric professionals who can prescribe antidepressant medication. Prescriptions are available following a comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis.
Can Brightside diagnose?
Yes. Brightside has psychiatric professionals who can diagnose depression, which is necessary for a prescription.
Does Brightside take insurance?
Yes. Brightside does accept some insurance. If you have insurance, you’ll need to confirm coverage and eligibility in your area. When you’re going through the free online assessment, at the end there is a way to check for your insurance before purchase. You can learn more here about their insurance partners.
Brightside offers all of the advantages of online therapy with the added bonus of online psychiatry, which makes all kinds of antidepressant medications available for those who need them. Many people find treatment from Brightside to be effective for different issues relating to depression and anxiety.
Jessica Timmons has been working as a freelance writer since 2007, covering everything from pregnancy and parenting to cannabis, chiropractic, stand-up paddling, fitness, martial arts, home decor, and much more. Her work has appeared in mindbodygreen, Pregnancy & Newborn, Modern Parents Messy Kids, and Coffee + Crumbs. See what she’s up to now at jessicatimmons.com.