5 Reasons Why Online Counselling For Depression Works

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated March 23, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, just over 8% of people living in the United States experience at least one major depressive episode each year. Although some scientists argued about Depressive Realism (hypothesized that depressed persons have more realistic inference), living with this mental health condition is a difficult undertaking. While depression, including major depressive disorder and seasonal affective disorder, can be a challenging mental illness to live with, help is available from mental health experts. However, not everyone has an opportunity for in-person therapy. Online therapy, provided by licensed professional therapists, is another option to manage depression symptoms. Online sessions through an online platform can offer convenience and accessibility. Learn more about the benefits of online therapy for depression and how it can be a part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

Why People May Avoid Seeking Treatment For Depression

There are many reasons why people living with depression fail to get help. People may not realize they are living with a mental illness, be unable to find the energy to seek help, or find therapy unaffordable.

  • They Don’t Realize There Is A Problem. While moderate depression is a serious mental health issue, not everyone who is living with it realizes they are experiencing signs of depression. It's possible they do not recognize the severity of their symptoms, or that help, such as individual therapy or emotional support, is possible. Some people living with depression also don't realize that they are experiencing something different than other people, making it difficult to seek emotional support or access mental health care when needed.

  • They Are Embarrassed. The stigma surrounding mental health stops some people from getting the help they need, such as a counseling session or virtual therapy. They don't want others to see them as "weak" or "crazy," or any other number of labels. The stigma causes these people to feel ashamed of their struggle, hiding the problem instead of reaching out for help through online services or licensed professional therapists. However, it is important to recognize that seeking help for mental illness is a brave step.

  • They Can't Afford It. Not everyone has access to affordable health care or insurance coverage. Even if individuals do have health insurance, it may not cover mental health services. However, online therapy companies often provide online therapy at a lower cost, with options like unlimited messaging and online chat, making it a more accessible solution for many. While many accept insurance therapists can also work with clients on a sliding scale or fee-for-service basis.

  • It Seems Unmanageable. Even if an individual living with depression or other mental health issues wishes to seek out treatment, their symptoms may make doing so difficult. Finding a mental health professional and traveling to appointments may require more energy than a person feels they have. However, online therapy can remove some of these perceived barriers.

It Can Be Hard To Navigate Complex Symptoms Of Depression

Online Counseling for Depression

While in-person psychotherapy and medication are two traditional treatment options for depression, online therapy has also shown promising results.

One study showed that online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for depression was just as effective as in-person CBT for treating symptoms of depression. Furthermore, results were longer lasting with the group who completed online therapy.

Online therapists can provide online therapy types often used during in-person therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Along with helping treat the symptoms of depression, online therapy also offers other advantages.

1. It’s A Realistic Option For Rural Populations.

While those living in urban areas often have easy opportunity for multiple mental health professionals, individuals living in rural areas may have to drive hours to meet with a licensed therapist. Even if there are local mental health professionals, it’s possible that they are fully booked or do not specialize in working with individuals with depression.

The best online therapy allows individuals to connect with therapists and psychiatric nurse practitioners from all over the country. That means people living in rural areas can still have professional counseling services.

2. It Doesn’t Require An Office Visit.

Individuals living with depression often experienced decreased energy levels. This physical and mental fatigue can make it difficult to leave the house for an appointment or navigate new driving directions or bus schedules. Sometimes, individuals with depression may avoid seeking treatment because it seems too difficult to travel to an office for an appointment.

Online therapy sessions can take place from anywhere with a strong and stable internet connection. That means individuals can connect with their therapist from their own home, their office, or another convenient location.

3. It’s A Convenient Option For People Who Don’t Feel Comfortable Talking To A Therapist In Person.

Some people feel awkward or uncomfortable talking with others in person but can connect over a screen. Online therapy may be a particularly attractive treatment option for these individuals.

Even if people are generally comfortable talking with others in person, exposing their feelings and thoughts in therapy can be difficult. Talking over a screen may help these people establish a stronger sense of trust with their therapist, which leads to increased openness.

4. It Offers Greater Control Over Scheduling.

Online counseling for depression may allow you to choose your own session times, or in some cases, to send a message to your therapist whenever you wish. An adaptable schedule that can match your lifestyle and make therapy helpful rather than stressful.

If you have a tight schedule, your only chance to go to counseling might be early in the morning before work, during your lunch break, or after the kids are in bed for the night. If you're short on time, finding a therapist with clinical experience who offers family therapy sessions or medication management can be challenging. And, if your work location isn’t right by your therapist’s office, it might be impossible to get an appointment over your lunch break. Online therapy allows you to find a therapist who can meet with you at a time that’s best for you.

5. It Offers A Safe Space. 

Not only can it be incredibly helpful to talk to someone that you don’t know personally, but meeting online can make the experience feel more at ease. If you connect with a therapist from another city, you likely won’t have to worry about running into your therapist outside of appointments.

Online counseling can be a completely exclusive service, with discreet billing and affordable services. Many who are depressed may not want to have their family find out that they are talking to a doctor or therapist.

Worrying about the stigma associated with mental health can stop people from reaching out for the help that they need. With online counseling, only you and the therapist have to know about these matters.

Online Counseling Through BetterHelp

Depression can make it difficult to find the energy to attend an in-person appointment or to connect with a therapist in person. However, in-person therapy isn’t your only option when it comes to managing depression symptoms. Online therapy is an easy and discreet way to connect with a licensed counselor.

Online counseling has been proven to be an effective method of helping people living with depression manage their symptoms and reframe negative thoughts. One study that focused on the intersection of technology and therapy when treating major depression found that those who received online counseling showed significant improvement in their symptoms. Aside from the effectiveness of treatment, the study outlined several benefits associated with online therapy. Additionally, the findings showed that internet-based therapy is a more cost-effective tool. Overall, this research points to online therapy’s elimination of barriers to receiving treatment as highly beneficial to those experiencing depressive symptoms.

It Can Be Hard To Navigate Complex Symptoms Of Depression


Online therapy can be an effective way to manage symptoms of depression. It allows people to connect with licensed therapists, no matter where they live. Additionally, some individuals appreciate online therapy and find it allows them to develop a greater connection with their therapist.

You Don’t Have To Face Depression Alone. Our Experienced Counselors Can Help.

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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