In the pre-COVID 19 era, approximately 8.5% of adults suffered from some form of depression. In a year, that number more than tripled to 27.8%. Coupled with mandatory lockdowns, the need for treatment brought online therapy for depression to the forefront of mental health care.
It doesn’t matter if your symptoms are COVID-related; online therapy for depression is affordable, successful, and sometimes preferable. With so many viable choices, though, you might be overwhelmed narrowing the field. But we can make it more manageable with a few suggestions for the best web-based providers.
The Best Online Therapy Sites for Depression
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Why We Like These Online Therapy Providers
- Psychiatric referrals – If talk or video therapy isn’t enough, your online therapist can refer you to someone on staff or associated with the providing group for possible prescribing.
- Between-appointment treatment and resources – The best online therapy for depression isn’t a one and done with sessions. What’s provided between appointments is sometimes the most valuable part of the treatment plan.
- Insurance acceptance for therapy and medication – Many of the top-rated online therapists and insurance companies have expanded their services for teletherapy, telepsychiatry, and online prescriptions.
- Diagnosis or no diagnosis – Clients don’t need psychiatric diagnoses to take advantage of accessible and relatively inexpensive online therapy.
When you choose a reputable provider, online therapy for depression can be just as effective as traditional treatment.
Bundled service packages are common, combining one-on-one phone or video chat appointments with ongoing access to therapists through messaging or chat rooms. Some websites are prescription-driven, some solely counseling-based, and others have therapists and psychiatrists on staff for a double-treatment approach, all with virtual access.
The Recent Evolution of Online Therapy
You’ll find that online therapy for depression has evolved in a relatively short time. Insurance acceptance and telepsychiatry are more prevalent, and new diagnostic tools and self-guided materials are also available.
We’ve developed our list of the best teletherapy services for depression by considering the entire therapeutic toolbox. We look at the ease of use, insurance acceptance, attractive pricing for cash-pay clients, methodology, quality of professionals on staff, and access to them.
Types of Depression Treated
According to the American Psychiatric Association, “depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act.”
The term covers a broad range of symptoms but generally breaks out into five categories that respond to online therapy for depression.
- Persistent Depression – two or more years of enduring symptoms
- Bipolar Disorder – fluctuation between depression and mania
- Seasonal Affective Disorder – cyclical symptoms
- Postpartum Depression – event-based
- Mild to Moderate Depression – shorter-term than persistent
Online therapy is open to everyone. However, keep in mind that it’s more effective for mild to moderate depressive symptoms.
How Does Online Therapy Help with Depression?
Mental health professionals agree that depression is treatable with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) facilitated by counselors, therapists, and psychologists. For more severe symptoms, medication may also be recommended in conjunction with regular sessions.
Online therapy is suitable in both instances. The websites provide immediate access to one-on-one sessions without a long waiting period, and the treatment plan is usually much less expensive than traditional in-person appointments.
When a prescription is warranted, some of our recommended providers have psychiatrists on staff. But some sites specialize in medication for patients suffering from severe or unrelenting symptoms. So, the entire treatment plan can stick to virtual access with medicines delivered to the door.
Advantages to Depression Treatment Online
Depending on your comfort level, you might even find that online therapy has the edge when it comes to treating depression.
A Multi-Pronged Approach
While some online therapy programs stick to scheduled sessions, many rely on therapy bundles. The program includes self-guided materials and continuous access to therapists. For anyone who feels isolated dealing with symptoms of depression, that daily lifeline can be invaluable.
Cognitive behavioral therapy lends itself to online sessions. Therapists can help patients identify their triggers and upload “homework” on the website.
Access and Success Rate
Depending on the severity of symptoms, depressed clients might not stick to regular sessions that require them to leave the house. There’s a higher success rate with online therapy for depression for patients more apt to cancel in-person appointments and who further benefit from the daily messaging availability.
We have quite a bit of information dedicated to the cost-effectiveness of online therapy. On average, online treatment for depression can save cash-pay patients as much as 75% compared to in-person appointments. Plus, now, many of the top providers also accept health insurance.
Does Online Therapy Work for Depression?
Although teletherapy addresses the different types of depression, the severity dictates a virtual treatment plan’s effectiveness.
Online therapy is a proven method for mild to moderate depression. Phone or video chat sessions with counselors, therapists, or psychologists provide the same in-office care level. When you combine the appointments with more therapist access, clients feel even more supported and guided.
Benefits of Online Therapy for Depression
- No wait time – can start therapy immediately
- Same types of mental health professionals for in-person and online depression therapy
- Some providers have psychiatrists on staff for prescribing when necessary (one-stop service)
- Daily access to therapists through messaging or chat rooms can help with isolation, loneliness, and confusion from clients suffering from depression
- Cost-effectiveness makes online therapy for depression a viable option for patients without insurance or concerned with the financial side of care
- Clients don’t have to leave home to follow their treatment plan
- Some web-based providers focus on medication and will ship directly to the patient’s home
Determining the Best Online Depression Therapy Provider for You
We’ve compiled our list of some of the best web-based therapists. But as everyone’s needs are different, you’ll want to consider the following:
- Your preference for therapy, medication, or both
- Out-of-pocket or insurance-based
- Monthly therapy budget
- Level of expertise (counselor, therapist, psychologist)
- Sessions-only or broader treatment plan with more access to your therapist
As a tip, package-based therapy providers are sometimes more cost-effective than others that are strictly appointment-based and more conducive to treating depressive disorders.
So, it’s not a situation of “pay more to get more”. Instead, you can save more with therapy bundling.