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Many people use in-person and online therapy to treat and manage depression, a common mental health condition.

The COVID-19 pandemic is linked to 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.

According to a small 2020 study, therapist-guided online therapy was effectively alleviated symptoms of anxiety and depression connected to COVID-19. For 6 weeks, participants received one weekly online session from a certified psychotherapist who used cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy techniques. Self-help, internet-based therapy was less effective but still showed positive results.

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
  • feelings of 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.

Keep in mind

Online therapy for depression is not a substitute for emergency services.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, you’re not alone. Help is available right now:

The Healthline team of medical experts thoroughly vetted each online platform to ensure quality and medical credibility. Each company follows best industry practices, demonstrates trustworthiness, and has a positive social impact related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

We also chose online resources for depression that offer flexible fees and payments options in order to suit a variety of needs. Some platforms offer financial assistance to people who qualify. What’s more, we included resources with a wide range of expertise of therapists in order to meet the needs of diverse communities.

A mental health professional from the Healthline Medical Network medically reviewed this article to ensure accuracy and offer advisory insights.

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

  • company reputation
  • making sure all therapists were licensed
  • positive user feedback
  • flexible fees and payment options
  • a variety of services that accept insurance
  • provide several communication methods
  • ease of use

Best overall

BetterHelp

  • Price: $60–$90 a week
  • Insurance: Services generally aren’t covered by insurance, but BetterHelp recently started offering financial aid.

With more than 7,800 licensed therapists, BetterHelp is the largest platform for online therapy, which makes it our best overall choice. All therapists have at least 3 years and 1,000 hours of experience. However, therapists cannot diagnose conditions, prescribe medications, or fulfill a court order.

You can work with a therapist either online or through their app on your phone. It’s possible to schedule weekly live chats by phone or video, plus you’ll get 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 so they could understand if a therapist were a good match for them. They also said they wished therapists replied quicker.

You can read reviews on the BetterHelp website, but there is no way to organize the reviews by ratings or search for keywords. However, you can read reviews of each therapist.

Check out our review of BetterHelp.

Pros:

  • 24/7 access to therapists via texts, live chat, phone calls, and video calls
  • financial assistance for qualified individuals
  • you can switch therapists or cancel your subscription at any time

Cons:

  • insurance doesn’t cover it
  • therapists may be slow to respond
  • services are only available for adults

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 the code SPACE to get $100 off.
  • Insurance: Talkspace partners with different health plans to provide virtual therapy.

Talkspace offers therapy to individuals, couples, and teens (with parental permission), making it our most comprehensive pick. With Talkspace, you have access to chat with a licensed therapist by text message, audio, or video. You can fill out a questionnaire to specifically talk about your depression symptoms.

All Talkspace therapists have had more than 3,000 hours of clinical experience and are trained in different treatment methods, including dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). However, they cannot prescribe controlled substances.

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 and responsive and tailored the sessions to their unique needs.

Read our review of Talkspace.

Pros:

  • 24/7 access to therapists via text message, audio, or video
  • insurance coverage is possible
  • you can change or cancel your plan at any time

Cons:

  • doesn’t provide legal documentation for court-ordered therapy or disability programs
  • therapists may be slow to respond
  • poor customer service

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. Specializing in romantic, platonic, and familial relationship issues and concerns, it’s our top choice for relationship therapy. ReGain also offers individual counseling.

Regain offers unlimited text messaging with your therapist. Plus, you and your partner can communicate with your therapist in a virtual room and set up video conferences and phone calls. If you’re experiencing depression, ReGain therapists can help you manage your symptoms. However, they can’t make a diagnosis or prescribe medication.

Users have reported the platform is easy to navigate and offers customized services geared toward couples or individuals. On the flip side, some users have stated that the questionnaire process and message responses from therapists took a long time.

Read our review of ReGain.

Pros:

  • video conferences, virtual room chats, and phone calls available
  • user-friendly platform
  • affordable

Cons:

  • therapists can’t provide a diagnosis or prescribe medication
  • no insurance coverage
  • no option for three-way phone calls

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.

We chose Pride Counseling as the best platform for LGBTQIA+ users since the company provides a safe place for LGBTQIA+ people to feel supported and access mental healthcare from an LGBTQIA+ affirming therapist. However, 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 digitally “shred” messages you want to delete. Phone and video calls are also an option.

Some customers report that the therapists provide excellent advice and are supportive, responsive, and fantastic listeners. However, 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.

Check out our review of Pride Counseling.

Pros:

  • options to connect to your therapist include phone, video, instant messaging, or live chat
  • therapists specialize in LGBTQIA+ therapy and provide inclusive, affirming support
  • offers sliding scale fees and financial aid

Cons:

  • doesn’t accept insurance
  • therapists are unable to diagnose conditions or prescribe medication
  • the platform assigns you a therapist instead of allowing you to choose

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.

This platform is our pick for the best online resource for teens due to the availably of counselors who specialize in teen issues. They also have experience in helping parents and guardians of teenagers who may need extra support in caring for their child’s needs. However, 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.

Read our review of Teen Counseling.

Pros:

  • helps teens, parents, and guardians to navigate the challenges of adolescence
  • communication options include messaging, live chats, phone calls, and video conferencing
  • therapists specialize in teen issues

Cons:

  • doesn’t accept insurance
  • therapists can’t diagnose conditions or prescribe medications
  • cannot treat severe mental health conditions or handle emergencies or crises

Best for cognitive behavioral therapy

Online-Therapy.com

  • Price: Basic plans are $39.95 a week. The Standard plan is $59.95 a week for extra chat and messaging support with a therapist. The Premium plan is $79.95 a week for express replies and two live chat therapist sessions a week. Currently, the platform offers a 20 percent discount for the first month.
  • Insurance: Does not accept insurance, but you can request reimbursement or direct payment for services.

Our top pick for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Online-Therapy.com, is not a chat platform and instead offers an online course based on CBT that provides you with the information, tools, and guidance to alleviate depression. You can get these materials in eight sections by text, audio, or video formats.

After filling out your worksheets, your assigned therapist gives you feedback within 24 hours. You receive a journal, activity plan, and videos for yoga and meditation. You can also sign up for a plan that offers individual therapy by live chat and allows you to send messages to your therapist.

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

Pros:

  • therapists specialize in CBT techniques and online CBT
  • you have the option to be anonymous though you must submit emergency contact information
  • user-friendly platform

Cons:

  • therapists cannot prescribe medication
  • therapists are only available on weekdays
  • only available for adults

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.

Our pick for the best option for prescription services, 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 fill out an online depression assessment to describe 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.

Check out our review of Lemonaid.

Pros:

  • user-friendly platform
  • offers a convenient mail-order pharmacy
  • competitive pricing

Cons:

  • certain prescriptions may require lab work at an outside clinic
  • does not take insurance
  • only available for adults

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.

Our top pick for faith-based online therapy is Faithful Counseling, a Christian-based online therapy platform with licensed therapists. However, 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.

Pros:

  • communication methods include video sessions, phone calls, and unlimited text messaging
  • the platform offers free educational seminars on various topics
  • all therapists are Christian and you can change yours at any time

Cons:

  • does not accept insurance
  • worksheets may not be effective
  • all counseling has a spiritual angle

“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 comprehensively on body language to help them feel safe may fair better receiving services in the presence of their therapist.”

Online PlatformBetterHelpTalkspaceReGainPride CounselingTeen CounselingOnline-TherapyLemonaidFaithful Counseling
What it’s best for overallcomprehensive therapy relationshipsLGBTQIA+ usersteenscognitive behavioral therapyprescription servicesfaith-based therapy
Price $60–$90 a week$65, $79, or $99 per week, $49 for additional live sessions $60–$90 a week$60–$90 a week$60–$90 per week$39.95, $59.95, or $79.95 per week $95 per month, $25 for initial evaluation $60–$90 a week
Insurance and payment options no insurance coverage, financial aid is available insurance coverage is possibleno insurance coveragedoesn’t accept insurance but you can submit for reimbursementno insurance coveragedoes not accept insurance, but you can request reimbursement or direct payment for servicesdoes not take insurance but you can choose to have a prescription sent to your own pharmacy for insurance to coverdoesn’t accept insurance but you can submit for reimbursement

To find a suitable option for online depression help, decide which aspects of therapy are most important to you. This could include a treatment plan that includes unlimited messaging or frequent video calls. You may value having a strong connection to your therapist and feeling that they understand your needs. If you’re paying out of pocket, choose a platform that you feel offers value for the cost.

Make sure you feel comfortable disclosing information to your therapist and feel free to switch to a new one if your current therapist isn’t the right fit. That said, remember that results are not immediate and it may be best to give the treatment a few weeks before you decide if it is working. Talk to your therapist about adjusting your treatment plan as needed.

In addition to knowing the type of help you’d like from a therapist, be sure to keep these important tips in mind when searching online resources:

  • Qualifications: Make sure to research your potential therapist. They should be licensed to practice and have had a bit of experience, especially in the topic you’re interested in receiving treatment for. For online therapy, in particular, make sure your potential therapist is available to practice in your state.
  • Privacy and safety: Go through the online resource’s privacy policy to make sure they have a data sharing policy in place and how they maintain confidentiality in their online sessions.
  • Forums and groups: If you’re interested in connecting with individuals who are going through similar experiences, check the online resource for forums, apps, or group chats where you can read about and share your own story. Keep in mind, however, that anyone can reply and may not be a certified professional. It could be helpful to discuss with a licensed professional before venturing out into forums.
  • Price: Check various websites and what type of services they offer for the price. Make sure you have a set budget aside, and don’t be afraid to ask for any hidden costs. You can also check their websites for information on insurance coverage.

How do I know if I’m depressed?

While it’s normal to experience various moods and emotions due to different situations and circumstances, major or clinical depression occurs when you frequently feel sad, hopeless, or helpless for no apparent reason. You may experience low moods and lose interest in activities you used to enjoy.

Other psychological symptoms of depression include feeling irritable, unmotivated, and indecisive. Physical symptoms include low energy, sleep issues, and digestive concerns.

To receive a clinical depression diagnosis, you must exhibit symptoms of depression for at least 2 weeks.

How is depression treated?

Many depression treatment plans include a combination of approaches. Treatment options include antidepressant medications and lifestyle changes such as exercise, mindfulness practices, and self-help strategies. Therapy options include CBT, psychodynamic psychotherapy, and interpersonal therapy (IPT).

Can I be diagnosed with depression online?

Yes, you can. Through telemedicine, you can talk with your general practitioner or psychologist about your depression. If you’re experiencing severe depression, they may refer you to a licensed psychiatrist, who can prescribe medication if you feel you need it.

For people with mild to moderate depression, speaking with a psychologist can be helpful — though these healthcare professionals can’t prescribe medication.

Generally, however, any healthcare professional can diagnose depression; a doctor, nurse practitioner, psychologist, or psychiatrist.

Which online resources are good for anxiety?

As mental health is more widely discussed in our daily lives, there are quite a few resources available to help individuals cope with their anxiety and depression. The Anxiety & Depression Association of America has a list of online resources you can scroll through and see what resonates with you. The Anxiety Resource Center also has a multitude of resources available.

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.

Additional resources

While more people are beginning to discuss their mental health, it can still be tough to talk about depression or anxiety within communities of color.

If you’re searching for a culturally sensitive or competent therapist, consider these additional resources:


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 her website.