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Need to chat with a peer or trained professional about depression? Online support groups and services can be there for you.

Person attending a virtual depression support group on their phoneShare on Pinterest
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When you experience depression, you often need support now. Depression doesn’t keep regular business hours.

Annually, approximately 17.3 million U.S. adults experience at least one major episode of depression. If you’re one of those people, you know that making your way through can be challenging.

Still, the internet offers numerous ways to receive the support you need when you need it. To help you sort through the huge number of options, we’ve narrowed it down to the top six online depression support groups.

To find the right services, we reviewed dozens of contenders, looking at the following:

  • Price. When you live with depression, cost shouldn’t be a barrier to support. That’s why we did our best to find as many free options as possible.
  • Options. We looked to find groups that had more to offer than one generic type of support for depression.
  • Reputation. We focused on groups that have been around for a while. This way, you can rest assured that your community isn’t going anywhere.

Best overall

Inspire Support Community by Mental Health America (MHA)

Cost: free

As a 24/7 online chat that supports individuals, families, friends, and caregivers, Mental Health America’s Inspire support community has over 2 million registered members.

With more than 100 categories, members can find a group of people who can relate to their specific needs and difficulties.

There are general groups for depression, grief and bereavement, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and suicide, to name a few. Plus, you can check out more specific groups based on particular medical conditions, such as cancer and diabetes, and less common diseases like scleroderma and myocarditis. What’s more, families, caregivers, teens, and young adults can join groups just for them.

Members can “friend” and message other members and participate in discussion feeds in their specific community. Each community features round-the-clock moderators to ensure comments remain kind and supportive.

What we like

  • With so many groups available, you’re very likely to find a group of people who can directly relate to the health condition you or a loved one is experiencing.
  • No matter the time, you don’t have to be alone. There’s always someone available for a chat.
  • Patient advocacy partners provide members with expert support related to specific conditions.

What to look out for

  • Online support is through written communication. Depending on how fast you and others type, this may make conversations feel a bit slow.
  • Though the community is moderated, keep in mind that things users post may not always be medically verified. If you want to try something suggested in the community, it’s best to check with your treatment team first to ensure it’s safe for you.

Best directory

Support Groups Central

Cost: free

What began as a weekly support group in Los Angeles has grown into a site offering online support that has reached thousands of participants in over 120 countries.

While the original format of the group remains the same, there are now over 25 support group options based on a variety of conditions and gender or sexual identity. When you click on a category, you’re brought to a list of upcoming meetings, including information about the date, time, cost, and sponsor organization.

Many of their groups are sponsored by national organizations, giving participants access to group leaders who are experts in the specific condition or concern causing the depression.

What we like

  • There are many reasons you may be experiencing depression. Here, you can find a group that can relate to your specific circumstances.
  • There are groups just for women, LGBTQIA+ folks, and People of Color.
  • All group leaders have completed a training program and are there to ensure everyone in the conversation has a chance to be heard.

What to look out for

  • Even though some groups may be led by licensed professionals, there’s no guarantee.
  • Video is required for the meetings.

Best for chatting

7 Cups

Cost: free for most services, $150 a month for online therapy and counseling (for ages 18 years and older)

If you just need someone to listen, 7 Cups offers a combination of trained listeners and licensed therapists who can lend an ear. The idea behind 7 Cups is to give everyone an opportunity to be heard.

Listeners are people who have completed a training course and volunteer their time to support anyone who may be going through a rough time. While this may not seem like a good idea at first, researchers say that users find the 7 Cups listeners just as helpful as psychotherapy, and the support feels more genuine.

The group also offers listeners advanced training and certifications, something listeners say increases their knowledge and confidence.

If you’d like to connect with a community for regular support, you can find forums and chatrooms that feature various communities based on age, condition, and more. Still, keep in mind that anyone can post in these forums, and suggestions made may not be based on scientific evidence or medical recommendations. If you’re interested in something you’ve read in the forums, it’s best to discuss it with your treatment team.

What we like

  • You can connect with a 7 Cups listener 24/7.
  • You can receive support in a variety of ways, including listeners, forums, chatrooms, and trained therapists.

What to look out for

  • Being “heard” by a listener is done via chat, not by phone.
  • Therapy from a professional therapist or counselor is available only for people over the age of 18.

Best for one-on-one support

BetterHelp

Cost: between $60–$80/week, billed every 4 weeks

Professional help should be affordable. At least that’s the theory behind BetterHelp, an online counseling platform that offers support from psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, and licensed professional counselors.

When you sign up with the platform, you’ll be matched with a therapist who is experienced in your specific situation or condition. This includes support for depression.

Research has shown that BetterHelp and online therapy may be beneficial in reducing symptoms of depression, though more research is needed. Plus, scientists involved in the study had connections to BetterHelp, which may affect results.

What we like

  • Finding a trained professional with whom you connect can be hard. BetterHelp has so many options that you’re bound to find someone you like.
  • You can communicate with your counselor by messaging, text chats, phone chats, and video chats.
  • Based on your response to their questions, being matched with a counselor is pretty quick — between several hours and several days.

What to look out for

  • BetterHelp is not available to minors.
  • BetterHelp doesn’t provide support for people who have thoughts of self-harm or are in a crisis situation.

Best peer-to-peer support

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Connection Recovery Support Group

Cost: free

Peer-to-peer support has many benefits, according to researchers. By connecting with others who share your condition, you feel less alone, can learn tried-and-true coping strategies, and even remove some of the stigma surrounding depression.

That’s where NAMI comes in. Following a structured model, NAMI’s groups are filled with people who have experienced the same mental health symptoms. Plus, they’re led by people who’ve been in your shoes.

Their 90-minute meetings, most of which occur weekly, are confidential spaces in which you can share your experience and difficulties without feeling judged. What’s more, you’ll likely walk away with some helpful advice and solutions to what may be getting you down at the moment.

What we like

  • All groups follow a structured model that ensures everyone in the session can share and receive support.
  • You’ll feel less alone knowing that many others are experiencing the same thoughts and feelings as you.
  • You have the opportunity to help others, which, let’s face it, is a great feeling.

What to look out for

  • Groups aren’t led by mental health professionals.
  • Groups are based by location, and if one isn’t available near you, you may need to start your own.

Best for postpartum depression

Postpartum Support International (PSI)

Cost: free

As one of the most common complications associated with childbirth, postpartum depression affects around 13% or about 1 in 8 women in the United States.

But, the reality is that it’s not only mothers and birthing people who may experience postpartum depression. It can affect a variety of populations.

Fathers and partners may struggle with the adjustment or how to help their partner. Birthing people may experience depression after placing their child up for adoption, and adoptive parents may experience it, too. And both NICU parents and those who lost their child during pregnancy or shortly after birth may experience postpartum depression as well.

Postpartum Support International (PSI) is here for all of that. They have support groups for each of these categories and more. In addition to weekly group meetings that feature members from around the world, PSI offers:

  • education and training for families and providers
  • phone chats with experts
  • resources in English, Spanish, French, German, and Hebrew

What we like

  • This group walks the walk. In addition to support, they advocate for research and legislation surrounding perinatal mental health.
  • They also offer helplines via phone (in English and Spanish) and text (in English and Spanish).
  • A variety of tools and resources are available.

What to look out for

  • Meeting times are listed in Pacific Time, so be aware of what you choose and put into your calendar.

What is the purpose of a support group for depression?

Researchers have found many benefits to joining a support group when you live with depression, including:

  • knowing you’re not alone can make you feel less socially isolated when you’re experiencing a depressive episode
  • feeling safe when talking to strangers who “get it,” versus family or friends who may not be able to relate and may make you feel judged
  • feeling heard and supported
  • helping others who are in a similar situation

How do online support groups differ from in-person support groups?

With online support groups, you can get the type of help you want or need (message boards, chats, peer support, professional help) when you want or need it. Many online communities offer support 24/7, helping you when you need it most.

How do I know which option is best for me?

Try to think about what you need the most. Is it a trained therapist? A connection with peers? Someone to listen to you? Support surrounding a specific condition?

Once you’ve figured out your biggest need, you can look for a site that fits your criteria. If, after a certain amount of time — like 1 month — you don’t feel it’s the right place for you, it’s OK to search for another site that may be a better fit.

Whether you live with mild or severe depression, when combined with traditional treatment like therapy and medication, having a support network by your side can make a world of difference. And if attending an in-person support meeting or therapy session isn’t possible for you for whatever reason, there are options you can use from the comfort of your home.

Online support groups come in a variety of options, from peer-to-peer to professional help. There are groups for various conditions, so you’ll likely find at least one that supports your specific needs.