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Depression is a common mental health condition. The COVID-19 pandemic has especially caused an increase in mental health symptoms: In June 2020, 40 percent of U.S. adults reported they struggle with mental health issues, a significant increase from 2019.

More and more people are turning to online therapy for help managing their depression. But how do you know whether online help for depression is right for you? Here, we’ll discuss some of the best online depression resources and how they stack up.

The symptoms of depression look different for everyone and can include:

  • feeling sad, hopeless, or anxious
  • feeling guilt or helplessness
  • loss of interest or pleasure in the things you used to enjoy
  • feeling tired or having little energy
  • having aches or pains, or digestive issues that don’t seem to go away, and there’s no physical cause
  • moving or speaking slower than usual
  • feeling restless
  • trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • a change in normal appetite or weight changes
  • thoughts of hurting yourself
  • self-harm
  • suicidal thoughts

Using online therapy for depression may be a good fit for you if you’re looking to talk with a licensed therapist and have access to Wi-Fi and internet along with a computer, phone, or tablet.

Keep in mind that many online platforms don’t have options for getting a diagnosis or prescription medication, so you may have to seek these out elsewhere.

We considered several criteria when selecting the best online platforms, including:

  • making sure all therapists were licensed
  • positive user feedback
  • flexible fees and payment options
  • a variety of services that accept insurance
  • a wide range of expertise of therapists

Best overall

BetterHelp

  • Price: $35–$80 a week with a free 7-day trial.
  • Insurance: Services generally aren’t covered by insurance, but BetterHelp recently started offering financial aid.

BetterHelp is the largest platform for online therapy with more than 7,800 licensed therapists. You can work with a therapist either online or through their app on your phone.

Therapists aren’t able to make a diagnosis and can’t prescribe medications, but you can schedule weekly live chats by phone or video, and can have unlimited text messages.

Overall, users are happy as long as they find a therapist who is a good fit for them. Some users stated they wished they had better guidance on how to know if a therapist was a good match for them. They also said they wished therapists replied quicker.

Most comprehensive

Talkspace

  • Price: Unlimited Messaging Therapy Plus is $65 a week. Unlimited Messaging Therapy Premium is $79 a week, which includes a monthly live therapy session. Unlimited Messaging Therapy Ultimate is $99 a week, which includes four live monthly sessions. Each additional live session is $49. Right now you can use a code to get $100 off.
  • Insurance: Talkspace partners with different health plans to provide virtual therapy.

With Talkspace, you have access to chat with a licensed therapist by text message, audio, or video. There’s a questionnaire you can take to specifically talk about your depression symptoms. Talkspace also works with teenagers ages 13 and older with parental permission, as well as with couples.

All Talkspace therapists have had more than 3,000 hours of clinical experience and are trained in different treatment methods, including dialectical behavior therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Some users have reported it takes a while to hear back from your therapist, and some therapists got some information wrong about their clients. Other users have stated their therapists were helpful, responsive, and tailored to their unique needs.

Best for relationships

ReGain

  • Price: $60–$90 a week.
  • Insurance: No insurance reimbursement. You’ll be billed out of pocket every 4 weeks and can cancel at any point.

ReGain Counseling is another platform under the BetterHelp umbrella. Its focus is on relationships of partners and married couples as well as individual counseling.

You can communicate with your therapist in a virtual “room” and have access to unlimited text messaging with your therapist. If you’re experiencing depression, ReGain therapists can help you manage your symptoms. They can’t make a diagnosis or prescribe medication.

Users have reported the platform is easy to navigate, and services are customized depending on if you’re using couples or individual therapy. Some users have stated that the questionnaire process and wait times for having messages returned from their therapists took a long time.

Best for LGBTQIA+ users

Pride Counseling

  • Price: $60–$90 a week and offers sliding scale fees and financial aid.
  • Insurance: Typically not covered, but you can submit for reimbursement.

Pride Counseling is a part of BetterHelp. It started in 2017 to serve the LGBTQIA+ community, but anyone can use the service. Therapists can’t diagnose depression or prescribe medication, including hormone replacement therapy.

In your assigned chat room, you can leave messages for your therapist as well as use the place to journal or note things that you want to remember or revisit with them. You can also “shred” messages you want deleted. Phone and video calls are also an option.

Some users have expressed dissatisfaction with how they were matched with therapists. One stated they wanted a female therapist and were matched with a male therapist. Others have said even with the financial aid, the cost was still more than they could afford.

Best for teenagers

Teen Counseling

  • Price: $60–$90 per week, billed every 4 weeks.
  • Insurance: Can’t submit claims to insurance.

Teen Counseling is BetterHelp’s online therapy platform and app for teenagers ages 13 through 19. Teen Counseling also has experience in helping parents and guardians of teenagers who may need extra support in caring for their child’s needs.

Counselors aren’t able to diagnose or prescribe medications. Your teen can speak with a counselor by text, live chat, phone call, or video-based preference. Chat rooms are only for your teen and their counselor.

Users say they felt heard by their counselor and have gotten practical coping strategies. Several parents commented that therapists did a great job helping their child through depression. Some negative reviews relate to scheduling and poor communication by therapists.

Best for cognitive behavioral therapy

Online-Therapy.com

  • Price: Basic plans are $31.96 a week. The Standard plan is $47.96 a week for extra chat and messaging support with a therapist. The Premium plan is $63.96 a week for express replies and two live chat therapist sessions a week. The prices include the first month’s 20 percent discount.
  • Insurance: Does not accept insurance, but you can request reimbursement or direct payment for services.

Instead of being a chat platform, Online-Therapy.com offers an online course where you can get feedback from a therapist. There’s a course specific to depression, and you can get these materials in eight sections by text, audio, or video formats.

You’re given worksheets to fill out. Your assigned therapist gives you feedback on these worksheets within 24 hours. You can also sign up for a plan that offers individual therapy by live chat, along with the ability to send messages to your therapist as well. You receive a journal, activity plan, and videos for yoga and meditation.

Overall, users seem to find Online-Therapy.com helpful as long as the work is being put in to complete worksheets. Some found the cost to be high, and they wished there was an app that worked with their phone.

Best for prescription services

Lemonaid

  • Price: $5 for the first month, $95 a month after that. You’ll also pay a one-time $25 consulting fee for an initial evaluation. The fee is waived if you don’t qualify for Lemonaid’s services.
  • Insurance: Does not take insurance, including their mail-order pharmacy, but you can choose to have a prescription sent to your own pharmacy for insurance to cover.

Lemonaid is a telemedicine company that offers treatment for more than 30 conditions. With their online depression treatment, you can have a monthly visit with a licensed medical professional, a personalized treatment plan, access to communicating with your medical team 24/7, and medication for depression shipped to your home.

You can click on the box that says “Depression,” and from there you’ll fill out an online form where you’ll be asked about your situation and symptoms.

At this point, Lemonaid providers aren’t able to treat bipolar disorder. Also, while Lemonaid can prescribe medications, you’ll have to find an outside clinic to do any lab work if your provider orders it.

Best faith-based service

Faithful Counseling

  • Price: $60–$90 a week.
  • Insurance: Does not submit insurance claims. Is not covered by insurance in general, but you can try to submit for reimbursement.

Faithful Counseling is a Christian-based online therapy platform with licensed therapists, though you don’t need to be a Christian to use the service. They offer unlimited text messaging in a secure room 24 hours a day, and you’ll get an email once your therapist has replied.

There’s also the ability to have video sessions and phone calls. Faith Counseling also offers free seminars on a variety of topics.

Some users have said their therapist wasn’t a good fit, and others said worksheets weren’t helpful. Others liked how quickly they were matched with a therapist, and prices were more affordable than other online therapy services.

“While there are some clients who prefer in-person therapy, others have benefited tremendously from telehealth,” explains Jessica Ruiz, PsyD, chief psychologist and director of Behavioral Health Associates of Broward, the Counseling Centers for Goodman Jewish Family Services in Davie, Florida.

Therapists online can provide much of the same interventions that are provided in an office setting.

Online therapy is convenient. Being in your own home can be helpful when it comes to receiving therapy for depression, especially if your symptoms are more severe.

Ruiz has noticed that some people find the physical distance offered by online therapy allows them the space to experience and feel emotions that they may struggle with when they’re in the office with their therapist.

That said, you might find your needs aren’t being addressed as effectively as if you were in person with a therapist.

According to Ruiz, “Those needing a high level of care, have difficulty connecting through a virtual format, or rely heavily on body language to help them feel safe may fair better receiving services in the presence of their therapist.”

There are many online therapy options out there for you to find support if you have symptoms of depression. If one doesn’t work, consider trying out another to find one that works best for you.


Risa Kerslake is a registered nurse, freelance writer, and mom of two from the Midwest. She specializes in topics related to women’s health, mental health, oncology, postpartum, and fertility content. She enjoys collecting coffee mugs, crocheting, and attempting to write her memoir. Read more about her work at herwebsite.