Could A Depression Chat Room Help Your Mental Health?

Updated May 1, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Feelings of isolation can be a major challenge when you’re living with depression. It might seem like you have no one around you who understands what you’re going through. At the same time, your symptoms may make it difficult to find the motivation to reach out and communicate. Is it possible that a depression chat room could make it easier to connect with others?

Many people with depression find online chat rooms to be helpful resources that can function as internet-based peer support groups. The people you meet there may be able to relate to your experience, offering empathetic support and firsthand advice about managing depression. At the same time, there may be downsides to making depression chat rooms your primary resources for mental health support. We’ll discuss both the benefits and drawbacks of these groups below.

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A Depression Chat Room Can’t Replace Crisis Support

If you’re having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, depression chat rooms likely can’t provide the support you need. You should get in touch with trained crisis responders right away. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is an excellent resource that can help you find vital counseling and information. You can reach them by following the link above or dialing 988.

On the other hand, if you’re not experiencing a crisis and you’re looking for help managing your ongoing symptoms of depression, it’s possible that an online chat room could help. Here’s how:

Making Social Interaction Easier

Regular contact with other people appears to have important benefits for mental health. A 2013 paper in Social Science & Medicine reported that membership in multiple social groups substantially decreased symptoms of depression and reduced the risk of relapse after treatment. 

Unfortunately, the challenges associated with depression may make pursuing social relationships harder for many people. This condition can be associated with difficulty in motivating behavior. Even if you know it would be good for you to get out of the house and meet people, it may be hard to make yourself do it.

Internet chat rooms effectively lower the ordinary barriers to social interaction. They enable you to rapidly meet other people with no need to introduce yourself to strangers or enter unfamiliar places. The other participants will often be understanding if you choose to engage at your own place or if you go for long periods without responding. All of these factors can make it easier for people with depression to find a sense of community through chat rooms.

Encouragement And Commiseration

People within your in-person social networks may have trouble wrapping their heads around the experience of depression. They might give well-meaning advice that doesn’t really address what you’re feeling, or they might struggle to grasp why certain aspects of day-to-day life are difficult for you. When you want to vent about your depression, they may sympathize without truly understanding.

None of this means you should neglect your relationships with family and friends. But depression chat rooms could provide an important source of additional support from people who have had experiences similar to yours. You may find that you can with them about depression in ways that you can’t with other people you know.

At the same time, some members of these chat groups may have made substantial progress in treatment for their depressive symptoms. People like this can offer encouragement and hope during times when you’re wondering if your mental health will ever improve. They may be able to help motivate you to pursue treatment and stick with it even through rough patches.

Advice Based On First-Hand Experience

In addition to providing spaces for social support, depression chat rooms can enable people to share knowledge about what’s helped with their symptoms. Sometimes hearing about what worked for someone else can give you ideas for improving your own mental health. Fellow chat room members may also be able to help alleviate fears about things like medication side effects or finding a therapist. 

What Does The Research Say About Depression Chat Rooms?

Researchers are still examining the potential benefits of internet-based mental health interventions such as chat rooms. Some studies have produced encouraging results, though.

A major literature review published in 2011 reported that peer support groups for depression can enable substantial reductions in symptoms. Though this paper was not looking specifically at online groups, it does provide support for the idea that interaction with others living with depression can provide real benefits.

In 2012, a randomized controlled trial of internet support groups found that they reduced depressive symptoms relative to a control group. These effects could still be observed when researchers followed up with participants 6 and 12 months later.

Another study conducted in 2015 also found that online support groups could reduce depression symptoms and negative self-image. However, the researchers noted that some participants were reluctant to engage with the program due to fears of judgment or worries that they might accidentally say something that would hurt others.

More research will probably be needed to confirm the benefits of depression chat rooms and figure out how they can be most effective. But these early studies suggest that at least some people can find genuine help in these forums.

Possible Drawbacks And Risks Of A Depression Chat Room

Despite the possible helpful effects we’ve described above, you should be aware that chat rooms for depression can have some possible downsides, including:

Amateur Advice

While chat rooms can sometimes provide helpful tips on day-to-day strategies for managing depression, they may also include inaccurate or outdated advice. People participating in online chats are usually not mental health professionals. Their suggestions on coping with depression are likely not based on clinical experience or up-to-date, peer-reviewed evidence.

It’s probably best to take any suggestions you get in a depression chat room with a grain of salt. That’s especially true if it’s related to medication or to managing a severe psychological crisis.

Disruptive Personalities

Some people in a chat room may not be there out of a genuine desire to help. Even peer support groups aren’t immune to so-called trolls — people who deliberately try to hurt people’s feelings, derail discussions, or spread misinformation. Sometimes these individuals may deliberately target the psychological difficulties of people living with mental health conditions. 

If a chat room community isn’t able to respond effectively to these individuals, it could become a toxic space that’s bad for your mental health. You may be able to reduce this risk by seeking out depression chat rooms with active, responsive moderators. Still, it might not be possible to completely avoid the risk of running into malicious people in online settings.

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Over-Reliance On Chat Rooms

We cautioned above that chat rooms for depression likely can’t take the place of in-person interactions. Yet precisely because of the ease of interacting online, some people may be tempted to conduct more and more of their social lives through these groups. 

Some studies indicate that people with depressive symptoms are more likely to fall into problematic, excessive internet use when they spend lots of time in chat rooms. If you’re using online groups as a support system for depression, you may want to make sure you’re also making an effort to engage with the people around you. Many things that help with depression may require you to get out of the house and move around, such as exercising or spending time in natural settings.

Where Can You Find A Reliable Depression Chat Room?

Some online support groups for depression may be better than others. The following long-running groups have substantial communities that may provide effective help:

Therapy And Chat Rooms For Depression

Depression chat rooms may work best when used in conjunction with therapy from a trained mental health professional. Clinical research has repeatedly found that psychotherapy, especially cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT, is an effective treatment for reducing symptoms of depression. While a depression chat room may be able to provide peer support and a sense of community, a therapist can offer clinically-validated advice on changing your mental habits for the better.

If the convenience of online depression chat rooms appeals to you, you may find online therapy helpful too. Internet-based platforms like BetterHelp can connect you with therapists for sessions conducted via text chat, voice calls, or videoconferencing. This may make it easier for you to attend sessions regularly — you’ll be able to do it from anywhere with an internet connection, including your own living room. 

Evidence indicates that online therapy can lead to substantial mental health improvements for people with depression. A 2015 meta-analysis found that both internet-guided and face-to-face treatments appeared equally effective at reducing depressive symptoms. Some patients receive benefits from unguided online self-help programs, but in general, the research suggests that having guidance from a trained mental health professional makes internet therapy more effective.


Depression chat rooms can be an important source of support for people who are having difficulties with social isolation as a result of their mental health challenges. However, there are some potential pitfalls of relying too much on these chat rooms, especially if it leads you to neglect other social relationships or avoid psychiatric treatment. Depression chat rooms may be best used as a way to support your recovery while working with a therapist. 

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