8 Best Online Depression Treatment Options in 2023

We’ve researched the best online therapy platforms for depression in 2023 based on cost, session types, and more.
This content is researched and written independently of the views or opinions of Everyday Health's editorial team. Everyday Health may earn a commission from purchases of featured products in this article.

Teletherapy platforms offering online counseling for depression provide a way for people currently in therapy and those new to counseling to access services in a more comfortable and sometimes more affordable manner. This is an emerging delivery method, and you may be wondering how to get started. Finding the best online therapy platform may take some time, but the best virtual counseling for depression is one that fits your lifestyle, budget, and individual needs. With that in mind, here are our eight picks for the best online therapy websites to help treat depression.

Our Top Picks for the Best Online Therapy for Depression

  • Best With Psychiatry Option for Depression: Brightside
  • Largest Network of Licensed Therapists for Depression: BetterHelp
  • Best for Depression That Accepts Insurance: Talkspace
  • Best for Couples Dealing With Depression: ReGain
  • Best Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Depression: Online-Therapy.com
  • Best for Depression That Supports Members of the LGBTQ+ Community: Pride Counseling
  • Best for Depression That Offers Same-Day Availability: Sesame
  • Best for Depression for Teens: Teen Counseling

Why You Can Trust Us

We independently investigate and recommend products and services we believe will enrich the lives of our readers and meet their specific needs. We’ve spent hundreds of hours of in-depth research on the online therapy market. You can trust our review because we did the legwork for you in these specific ways:

  • Engaged in ongoing independent research
  • Spent over 245 hours testing eight brands, deployed surveys that included over 200 participants each, and interviewed focus groups
  • Went behind the paywall for two months with eight brands to mystery shop our best online therapy choices
  • Contacted brands’ customer service teams to ask questions and gauge responsiveness
  • Consulted six leading psychologists and psychiatrists
  • Became customers of online therapy providers ourselves
  • Reviewed academic research about the efficacy of online therapy versus in-person therapy
  • Read hundreds of verified customer reviews from trusted third parties such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot

Learn more about how we researched and evaluated the best virtual therapy brands via our online therapy methodology page.

Best Online Therapy for Depression: Side-by-Side Comparison

Platform
Session Types
Cost and Payment Options
Prescribes Medication
Accepts Insurance
Learn More
Brightside transparent logo
Live video and messaging
$299 per month for unlimited messaging and four live video sessions; additional video sessions for $59 each; $95 per month for psychiatry plan; $349 per month for psychiatry + therapy
Yes
Yes
betterhelp-logo-stacked
Messaging and live chat, phone, and video sessions
$60 to $90 per week, based on your geographic location, preferences, and therapist availability; plans billed monthly
No
No
Talkspace transparent logo
Messaging and live chat, phone, and video sessions; live workshops
$69 to $109 weekly depending on subscription; billed monthly; Psychiatry is $299 for initial consult, $175 for subsequent sessions
Yes; Talkspace Psychiatry only
Yes
Regain transparent logo
Messaging and live chat, phone, and video sessions
$60 to $90 per week, based on your geographic location, preferences, and therapist availability; plans billed monthly
No
No
online therapy com logo
Messaging and live video and voice-only sessions
$50 to $110 weekly depending on subscription
No
No
Pride Counseling transparent logo
Messaging and live chat, phone, and video sessions
$60 to $90 per week, based on your location, preferences, and therapist availability; plans billed monthly
No
No
Sesame logo transparent
Live video
Ranges from $60 to $300+ per session, depending on therapist, type of session, and geographic location
Yes, if seen by an MD or authorized provider
No
Teen Counseling transparent logo
Messaging and live chat, phone, and video sessions
$60 to $90 per week, based on your geographic location, preferences, and therapist availability; plans billed monthly
No
No
Brightside transparent logo

Best With Psychiatry Option for Depression

Brightside

Our Rating
4.13

Combining medication and counseling may be an effective way to manage depressive symptoms, according to a past study. If your treatment plan for depression includes medication and counseling, Brightside offers a centralized solution for accessing both.

Session Format Messaging and live video

Cost $299 per month for unlimited messaging and four 45-minute video sessions; additional video appointment for $59; $95 per month for psychiatry plan; $349 per month for psychiatry plus therapy

Prescribes Medication Yes

Accepts Insurance Yes

Pros

  • Offers therapy and psychiatry for depression
  • Free assessment available
  • Accepts insurance
  • Therapy sessions are 45 minutes long
  • Has an app for iOS devices

Cons

  • Appointment times are limited with some providers
  • No counseling sessions for children and teens
  • Does not have an app for Android devices

When our reviews team surveyed 200 Brightside users in January 2023, we found that the majority (68 percent) of respondents chose the therapy and psychiatry plan.

Brightside depression symptom tracker.
Brightside tracks your depression symptom score as you go through treatment.

You are matched with a mental health provider on the basis of a long questionnaire. This includes questions from the Patient

Use Brightside promo code "EDH60" for $60 off your first month of cash plans.

EDH60
betterhelp-logo-stacked

Largest Network of Licensed Therapists for Depression

BetterHelp

Our Rating
4.01

BetterHelp is the world’s largest online therapy platform, with more than 30,000 mental health experts, including psychologists, licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed clinical social workers, and licensed professional therapists. Because so many therapists work with BetterHelp, you may have more to choose from who are licensed in your state compared with other online therapy platforms for depression.

Session Format Messaging and live chat, phone, and video sessions

Cost $60 to $90 per week, based on your geographic location, financial aid eligibility, length of session, and type of therapists; plans billed monthly

Prescribes Medication No

Accepts Insurance No

Pros

  • More than 30,000 licensed therapists on the platform
  • Financial aid for those who qualify
  • Simple and streamlined process for changing counselors
  • Between-session “homework” available, which may improve the therapy experience for some

Cons

  • Insurance not accepted
  • For adults only
  • No psychiatrists on the platform, so no medications can be prescribed

Simply enter your city and state or ZIP code on BetterHelp’s “Find a Therapist” page if you want to choose your own therapist. Alternatively, you can let BetterHelp match you with a therapist during the sign-up process. All counselors have at least a master’s degree in a related

Use BetterHelp promo code "everydayhealth" for 20 percent off your first month.

everydayhealth
Talkspace transparent logo

Best for Depression That Accepts Insurance

Talkspace

Our Rating
3.58
Talkspace offers online counseling sessions to adults and teens ages 13 to 17. If you need medication management, Talkspace Psychiatry — a separate service within the platform — provides this treatment for adults.

Session Format Messaging and live chat, phone, and video sessions; live workshops

Cost $69 per week for Messaging Therapy, $99 per week for Video Therapy Plus Messaging, and $109 per week for a combination of Live Video Therapy Plus Messaging Plus Weekly Workshops, with plans billed monthly; Talkspace Psychiatry costs $299 for the first session and $175 for follow-up sessions

Prescribes Medications Yes, Talkspace Psychiatry

Accepts Insurance Yes

Pros

  • Accepts several insurance plans
  • Offers counseling and psychiatry services
  • Authorized providers can prescribe medication
  • Provides individual, couples, and teen counseling

Cons

  • Some plans rely on messaging for communication
  • Live sessions with a therapist not available on all plans
  • Can be costly if you’re only looking for a few sessions

Licensed therapists and counselors offer online help for anxiety, depression, mood disorders, and more. Talkspace has high standards for therapists, requiring 3,000 or more clinical hours and at least a master’s degree in a related field. Talkspace has therapists licensed in all

Use Talkspace promo code "EVERYDAY85" for $85 off your first month.
EVERYDAY85
Regain transparent logo

Best for Couples Dealing With Depression

ReGain

Our Rating
3.7
Therapists on ReGain have a specific interest and expertise in relationship therapy. Additionally, each therapist has a master’s degree or doctoral degree in their field and at least three years and 1,000 hours of clinical experience.

Session Format Unlimited messaging and one live chat, phone, or video session per week

Cost $60 to $90 per week based on your geographic location, preferences, and therapists; plans billed monthly

Prescribes Medication No

Accepts Insurance No

Pros

  • Therapists and counselors specialize in relationship counseling
  • Ability to attend sessions alone or invite your partner
  • Financial aid for those who qualify

Cons

  • Sessions require you and your partner to be in the same location
  • No individual messaging; your partner can see all messages with your therapist
  • Price is the same for single sessions and couples sessions

When your partner is dealing with depression, you may feel hurt, isolated, or confused, according to a study published in the journal The Qualitative Report. Because of this, Cleveland Clinic recommends couples attend therapy together so both partners can gain an understanding about

Use ReGain promo code "everydayhealth-rg" for 20 percent off your first month.
everydayhealth-rg
online therapy com logo

Best Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Depression

Online-Therapy.com

Our Rating
3.96

What sets Online-Therapy.com apart from other platforms is that it prioritizes CBT for depression. This is different from other online sites that have therapists trained in CBT but don’t require it as a counseling method.

Session Format Messaging and live video or voice-only sessions

Cost $50 to $110 weekly depending on subscription; 20 percent discount first month for new subscribers; plans billed monthly

Prescribes Medication No

Accepts Insurance No

Pros

  • Focus on CBT, an evidence-based treatment method with a high success rate treating a variety of behavioral health issues
  • Toolkit of resources included as part of treatment plan
  • 20 percent discount the first month for all new joiners

Cons

  • Only offers individual therapy sessions
  • Live sessions not available with basic plan
  • No services for kids or teens

There are several counseling methods for treating depression, including CBT. This form of treatment for depression involves making an effort to change unhelpful thinking patterns and behavioral patterns, according to the American Psychological Association. What sets Online-Therapy

Pride Counseling transparent logo

Best for Depression That Supports Members of the LGBTQ+ Community

Pride Counseling

Pride Counseling is part of the BetterHelp group. Therapists with Pride specialize in working with members of the LGBTQ+ community on issues like depression. Specific LGBTQ+ experience depends on the counselor, however.

Session Format Messaging and live chat, phone, and video sessions

Cost $60 to $90 per week, based on your geographic location, preferences, and therapists; plans billed monthly

Prescribes Medication No

Accepts Insurance No

Pros

  • Therapists are familiar with depression as it relates to the LGBTQ+ community
  • Financial aid for those who qualify
  • Simple process to change counselors

Cons

  • Does not accept insurance
  • Counseling is not available for teens under 18 years old
  • No online psychiatry

Members of the LGBTQ+ community are more susceptible to mental health conditions like depression, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. And having an online platform dedicated to serving this community ensures a safe way to access mental health services.

Pride Counseling

Use Pride Counseling promo code "everydayhealth-pc" for 20 percent off your first month.
everydayhealth-pc
Sesame logo transparent

Best for Depression That Offers Same-Day Availability

Sesame

Our Rating
2.7

Sesame is a direct-to-patient care marketplace that features a pay-as-you-go system for both mental health care and medical care — such as for urinary tract infections, sore throats, rashes, back pain, and cold and flu symptoms.

Session Format Live video

Cost Ranges from $60 to $300+ per session, depending on the therapist, type of session, and geographic location

Prescribes Medication Yes, if seen by an MD or authorized provider

Accepts Insurance No

Pros

  • Same-day appointments
  • Offers couples, family, and individual therapy
  • Generous cancellation policy

Cons

  • Video sessions only
  • Limited same-day availability in some states
  • Expensive if you need long-term or frequent sessions

When you need immediate help for depression symptoms, access to same-day appointments can feel critical. Sesame works with providers licensed in all 50 states. You’ll need to enter your ZIP code to find out if there are therapists with same-day availability in your region.

The process

Teen Counseling transparent logo

Best for Depression for Teens

Teen Counseling

The ability to message their therapist and use their smart devices for therapy may make Teen Counseling an attractive option if you’re looking for the best online therapy for teens.

Session Format Messaging and live chat, phone, and video sessions

Cost $60 to $90 per week and is based on your geographic location, and financial aid eligibility; plans billed monthly

Prescribes Medication No

Accepts Insurance No

Pros

  • Counseling rooms and chat options ideal for teens
  • Financial aid for those who qualify
  • Parents can attend sessions if invited by teen

Cons

  • Does not accept insurance
  • Therapists do not diagnose teens
  • Not approved for court-mandated counseling

Approximately 13 percent of the U.S. population ages 12 to 17 experienced at least one major depressive episode in the last year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). And only a few online counseling platforms for depression provide mental health services

How to Tell Whether You Need Virtual Counseling for Depression

Whether or not you need therapy for depression depends on a few factors, like symptom severity, duration, and your overall physical and mental health. Keeping track of the frequency and severity of symptoms by using journals or apps, such as those provided by Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, will help your healthcare provider make a proper diagnosis.

One thing to remember is that depression symptoms can range from mild to severe. Some people will experience a variety of symptoms, while others may only have a few. Sharing your symptoms with a mental health provider can ensure you receive a formal diagnosis and treatment plan.

Here are some of the more common signs of depression, according to the NIMH:

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Persistent feelings of sadness or emptiness
  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and pessimism
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling unsettled
  • Changes in appetite
  • Lack of energy or fatigue
  • Difficulty remembering, making decisions, or concentrating
  • Increase in aches and pains, headaches, digestive problems
  • Changes in grooming and self-care
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

There are several forms of depression, including major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, postpartum depression, psychotic depression, and seasonal affective disorder, according to Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Your doctor will assess your symptoms and provide the most accurate diagnosis for your symptoms.

Who Should Use Virtual Therapy for Depression?

Online therapy for depression is meant for individuals seeking help for symptoms related to mild to moderate depression. You may choose virtual therapy for the ease and convenience of talking to a therapist while at home — in a comfortable setting. It can also make it easier to access regular services if transportation is an issue or if you’re living with a health condition that impacts your ability to travel.

Some situations are not appropriate for virtual therapy. For example, if you do not have a safe location to participate in sessions, or you have concerns about someone within earshot hearing your conversation with a therapist, you may prefer to seek in-person instead of online help for depression in a more discreet location. “Although online therapy can be a better option for many individuals whose [mental health] symptoms interfere with getting to therapy, at some point the online platform may not offer the exposure and activation benefits that in-person therapy provides,” says Nicole Siegfried, PhD, the chief clinical officer at Lightfully Behavioral Health in Thousand Oaks, California.

You should not use teletherapy if you’re having active thoughts about suicide or feel like you’re going to hurt someone else. Instead, call 911, since these are both emergency situations that require immediate medical attention. “The reason that severe cases of depression or other mental health symptoms should avoid online therapy is that more intensive treatment may be necessary. In-person office visits for serious cases allow clinicians to fully evaluate a patient and make recommendations accordingly,” says Deborah Serani, PsyD, a psychologist and a senior adjunct professor of psychology at Adelphi University in Garden City , New York.

Does Online Therapy for Depression Prescribe Medication?

Some virtual therapy platforms offer prescription medication management for depression if they have licensed providers. For example, Brightside, Sesame, and Talkspace have board-certified psychiatrists and specialized psychiatric nurse practitioners who can prescribe antidepressants — a group of drugs commonly used to treat depression.

Some of the more commonly prescribed antidepressants approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

Your medication for depression should be managed by a licensed prescriber such as a psychiatrist or another physician who can monitor your condition throughout treatment. Not every platform offers medication services, so make sure to ask the provider if this is something they provide.

Does Virtual Counseling for Depression Work?

Internet-based interventions are effective in reducing depressive symptoms, according to a review published in August 2014 in the journal Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine. That said, you also need to consider the type of depression, severity, and how long you’ve been experiencing symptoms. While each situation is unique, online platforms are more appropriate for mild to moderate depression.

Online therapy for depression may not be appropriate for severe depression. The best way to determine if virtual counseling is right for you is to talk to your doctor or a licensed mental health expert. They can review your symptoms and decide which delivery method is appropriate.

What to Consider Before Purchasing a Subscription for Online Counseling for Depression

It’s difficult to designate one platform as the best online therapy for depression. Each situation is unique, and the best fit for one person may not be the right choice for another. You can evaluate a company on the basis of session types, providers, schedule, cost, and more. Here are some questions to consider when researching a subscription for online help for depression.

  • Is your current health, both physical and mental, appropriate for online counseling? This may require a doctor’s visit to determine.
  • Does the pricing and insurance coverage meet your budget and expectations?
  • Does the platform accept Medicare? The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 requires Medicare to cover online therapy through December 31, 2024, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Do you have a physical space for online sessions that accommodates privacy, connectivity, and comfort?
  • Do you have a quiet and comfortable physical space for online sessions?
  • Can you afford a monthly plan or a pay-per-session plan?
  • Are the apps and online platforms the providers use compatible with your technology?
  • Do you have the freedom to choose a therapist, or are you matched with one?
  • Does the company provide a straightforward cancellation policy on its website?
  • Does the platform work with your schedule? Check the flexibility and accessibility for session times and days, especially if you need sessions on the weekend, early in the morning, or later in the day.
  • Do you need multiple ways to communicate with your counselor (such as phone, video, online chat, and text)?
  • Does the platform offer multiple counseling sessions such as family or couples?

How to Prepare for Your First Session of Online Therapy for Depression

Once you settle on an online platform and therapist, it’s time to prepare for your first session. Here are some tips to help you get started.

  • Check your internet connection to make sure it can support online sessions.
  • Make sure your software is updated and download any apps you need to communicate with your therapist.
  • Find a quiet and comfortable location to participate in your online sessions.
  • Confirm your appointment time and preferred method of communication.
  • Make sure the camera and volume work on the device you plan to use for your session.
  • Think about what you want out of these sessions and write down any thoughts or questions to ask during your first appointment.
  • Check your insurance coverage or employee assistance program to see whether they cover online therapy.
  • Plan on “arriving” 15 minutes before your session so you have time to make sure your technology is working and get comfortable.
  • Eat and hydrate prior to your session.
  • Allow yourself 15 to 30 minutes after the counseling session to record any thoughts, impressions, or follow-up questions.

Bottom Line

Online therapy platforms offer an alternative way to access mental health services for depression with a licensed counselor, psychologist, or therapist. Being able to meet virtually allows for flexibility in scheduling and convenience. There are several virtual therapy platforms, but not all have therapists that specialize in treating depression. That’s why it’s critical to do your research and ask questions about the types of mental health issues each platform treats.

If unlimited messaging and health insurance coverage is a priority, consider Talkspace. It may also be a good choice if you need prescription management for depression symptoms. If you are worried about finding a therapist with availability in your state or who fits into your schedule, BetterHelp might be a good choice since it has the most therapists of all the online therapy platforms for depression. Our Talkspace versus BetterHelp review goes into more detail about the differences between the two companies.

Brightside is our top pick for mental health experts who specialize in depression and medication management for depression symptoms. And finally, if live appointments are your preferred communication method, consider looking into the therapy services offered by Sesame, which offers only live video sessions, some with same-day availability.

It’s critical to find a therapist who uses evidence-based practices and has expertise in providing online services. “Clinicians who provide online therapy should have additional training in utilizing this platform, as there are specific ethical and logistical competencies that are required,” says Dr. Siegfried. Do not be afraid to ask your therapist if they have completed additional training in online services.

In Emergency Situations

If you are in crisis, waiting for an online therapy appointment may not be safe. In case of an emergency, call 911. This includes plans to harm yourself or others. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. Help is available 24/7.

You can also reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357). The SAMHSA helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-days-a-year treatment referral and information service for individuals facing mental or substance abuse disorders.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are online therapy sessions effective?

Yes, online therapy sessions can be effective. A review published in September 2020 in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that teletherapy offers convenient access to mental health services during times of crisis, like the COVID-19 pandemic. The effectiveness often depends on the therapist, type of sessions, number of sessions, and the person receiving therapy.

Can Talkspace prescribe medication?

The therapists available with the general counseling platform cannot prescribe medication, but the licensed prescribers on Talkspace Psychiatry can. It’s important to note that these are two different plans available on Talkspace. If you need a new prescription or medication management, you should sign up for Talkspace Psychiatry. It has a different fee structure and plan options than Talkspace. Once approved, you will be matched with a prescriber licensed in your state.

Will depression get better on its own?

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, how long you’ve been living with depression, and other health conditions that may impact depression, it often requires treatment to get better. Some people are able to manage minor depression symptoms with lifestyle modifications and coping strategies, but most people need a specially designed treatment plan that includes professional help from a mental health expert, coping strategies, and sometimes medication to feel better, according to the NIMH.

Is online therapy for depression recommended to improve mental health?
There is evidence that internet-based interventions can effectively reduce depressive symptoms, which can help improve mental health. Online platforms are considered appropriate for the treatment of mild to moderate depression, so it’s important to consider the type of depression you have, its level of severity, and the length of time you’ve experienced symptoms to determine whether online therapy is a good fit.
Can depression get diagnosed online?
Yes. By sharing your symptoms with a mental health provider, either in person or on an online therapy platform, you can get a formal diagnosis for depression, along with a treatment plan.
Does Medicare cover online therapy for depression?
Yes. Medicare plans are required to cover online therapy through December 31, 2024.

Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking

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