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From meditation to mood tracking, we found some of the best apps to help you manage your depression symptoms.

Person using a depression app on their phoneShare on Pinterest
Getty Images/AleksandarNakic

Living with depression can be challenging, but you’re not alone. Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions worldwide.

In 2019, approximately 19.4 million U.S. adults had at least one episode of major depression. That’s almost 8% of the adult population.

While apps to help ease depression won’t replace medication or therapy, they may help decrease your stress and alleviate some of your symptoms, according to research from 2017.

We realize you don’t necessarily want to wade through tons of apps to find the best one. So, we’ve rounded up our favorites from skills-based assistance to sleep stories and even games.

If you’re living with depression, apps may help you feel better or manage life in a variety of ways.

Several apps teach you therapeutic or meditation techniques to help you manage symptoms. Others let you connect with people who are going through similar things. Some apps give you the opportunity to vent your feelings with an emotionally intelligent chatbot.

Many apps offer basic features for free and give you the option to make monthly payments for more advanced features.

Still, it’s important to keep in mind that apps can’t replace traditional treatments for depression. If your symptoms persist or are affecting your daily life and ability to function, your best option is to seek professional support.

If you want to jump directly to the section for each app, you can click the links below.

To find the right apps, we reviewed numerous contenders, looking at the following:

  • Rating. We focused on apps with the highest overall ratings from thousands of users.
  • User reviews. We looked closely at what users thought about the app.
  • Operating system. All the apps are available for both Android and iOS.
  • Price. All apps on our list offer free options.
  • Vetting. All services have been vetted to ensure they meet Psych Central’s medical, editorial, and business standards.

Best app for meditation

Headspace

  • Price: Free for basic services; $12.99 per month or $69.99 per year for premium. Student and family plans are available.
  • Platform: Android, iPhone, website
  • App Store rating: 4.9 stars (877.5k ratings)

Founded by a former Buddhist monk turned event planner, Headspace has been around since 2010. With the goal of providing people guided meditations anytime, anywhere, Headspace now also includes animations, articles, and videos.

Why we chose it as best for meditation

Headspace is an easy-to-navigate app offering numerous meditations for beginners and advanced meditators. It also allows users to create meditation goals and track their progress.

What we like

  • Meditations vary in length.
  • Meditations are available for a large variety of experiences and situations.
  • You can often select different guide levels (guided, semi-guided, unguided) and voices (e.g., male vs. female).

What to look out for

  • If you don’t pay for an upgrade, you’re stuck listening to the same few meditations over and over again.

If you’d like to learn more, consider reading our in-depth review of Headspace.

Best for sleep

Calm

  • Price: Free for some features; $14.99 per month, $69.99 per year, or $399.00 for a one-time, lifetime purchase for premium.
  • Platform: Android, iPhone, website
  • App Store rating: 4.8 stars (1.4 million ratings)

Regularly recognized as one of the best apps for sleep, Calm’s sleep stories feature some well-known voices like Matthew McConaughey, Idris Elba, Ariana Grande, and Kate Winslet. Like the celebrities, there’s a wide range of story styles to choose from, including fairy tales and ASMR. There are even nap sessions available if you need to shut your eyes for just a few minutes midday.

Why we chose it as best for sleep

The Calm app features more than 200 sleep stories, as well as soothing nature sounds, landscapes, and music. It also lets you record and track your moods.

What we like

  • The Calm app is updated regularly so you won’t get bored listening to the same stories over and over again.
  • There are sleep stories designed specifically for children.
  • There are “Gently Back to Sleep” options for when you wake up in the middle of the night.

What to look out for

  • The sleep stories can be too long for some people.
  • Only a few of the stories are included in the free version of the app.

If you’d like to learn more, consider reading our in-depth review of Calm.

Best for self-guided therapy

Youper

  • Price: Free for basic services; $3.75 per month, $44.99 per year for an Emotional Health Plan.
  • Platform: Android, iPhone, website
  • App Store rating: 4.8 stars (14.4k ratings)

Created by doctors and therapists, Youper is short for “You” + “Super.” It was designed to empower people to take charge of their own mental health. Through the use of artificial intelligence technology, you can receive daily therapeutic exercise recommendations. The app relies on user data to improve their services.

Why we chose it as best for self-guided therapy

The Youper app uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques to help people with depression and anxiety. Users have access to emotional support via a 24/7 AI therapy chat.

What we like

  • The app asks you a series of questions to determine your mood and feelings, along with what exercises would work best for you at that moment.
  • Even though it’s AI, you feel like you’re communicating with a real person who cares about you.
  • The app is built on scientific data.

What to look out for

  • If you’re not interested in tracking your moods and just want to do a skill, there’s no option to move past the mood tracker.
  • To access all the features, you need a subscription.
  • Though Youper uses CBT techniques to help relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety, it’s not a substitute for depression treatment.

Best for community support

Sanvello: Anxiety and Depression

  • Price: Covered by some insurance plans; $8.99 per month, $53.99 per year for the Self-Care plan; $50 per month, $350 per year to include journey classes and 1:1 coaching; approximately $140 for an initial therapy appointment and $85 for the average follow-up appointments.
  • Platform: Android, iPhone, website
  • App Store rating: 4.8 stars (18.5k ratings)

Sanvello is a full-service app, providing everything from goal tracking and exercises to coaching and therapy. But their community of users, which Sanvello bills as a “judgment-free, label-free space,” is where it’s at. If you need a sympathetic “ear” or some encouragement, fellow app users can chime in with words of understanding or encouragement.

Why we chose it as best for community support

Sanvello’s peer support feature allows users to safely share their thoughts in a judgment-free zone. Users can help one another with everything from offering words of encouragement to sharing stress-relieving tips.

What we like

  • It’s a safe space for anyone who is experiencing anxiety or depression.
  • Connecting with hundreds of others who are experiencing the same things as you can make you feel less alone.
  • Therapy sessions are more affordable than many in-person providers.

What to look out for

  • You can get blocked from posting if you talk about suicide.
  • You could be denied therapy and receive a recommendation to find a different provider, based on your responses to the initial questionnaire.
  • While Sanvello may help relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety, it’s not a substitute for treatment.

Best for AI-based therapy

Wysa

  • Price: AI chats are free; $11.99 per month for access to tools and a well-being coach or therapist.
  • Platform: Android, iPhone
  • App Store rating: 4.9 stars (8.6k ratings)

Wysa and its AI penguin are an “almost therapy” option that gives you therapeutic tools and techniques at the right time. After answering several questions, the Wysa penguin will suggest:

Founded by health professionals, Wysa’s goal is to help you talk and work through your symptoms, regardless of the time of day or night.

Why we chose it as best for AI-based therapy

If you’re not ready to share your feelings with a human, Wysa allows you to share your deepest thoughts with an emotionally intelligent chatbot. You remain anonymous and your conversations are privacy-protected.

What we like

  • No more 50-minute therapy sessions — Wysa will “listen” for as long as it takes you to work through your thoughts and feelings.
  • Many users find the Wysa penguin adorable, making it easier to talk to a bot and eliminating the fear of burdening a friend with your problems.
  • You can receive help from the Wysa penguin without paying for a premium version.

What to look out for

  • The penguin is, sadly, not real. Sometimes it can feel like you’re in a loop.
  • If you experience severe depression, the penguin isn’t a substitute for professional help.

Best game

SuperBetter

  • Price: Free
  • Platform: Android, iPhone, website
  • App store rating: 4.7 stars (7.3k ratings)

Believe it or not, you can play a game to help you overcome some of your symptoms. SuperBetter is that game.

Created by a game designer who was living with depression, SuperBetter may help you build resilience by using the psychological strengths found in gaming.

The goal is to use the virtual world to provide you with the skills you need to overcome difficult situations in life. Some research indicates that SuperBetter may help reduce symptoms of depression, though researchers involved in the study were connected to the app, which may influence results.

Why we chose it as best game

The SuperBetter app is designed to help you develop resilience — the ability to stay strong, optimistic, and motivated during difficult times. Players unlock their heroic potential to overcome difficult situations and reach their goals.

What we like

  • The game is specifically designed to improve your mental health, with challenges that have you dealing with your real-life difficulties virtually.
  • The “battles” in the app mimic real life, such as a challenge to get up off the couch and take just one step or even get a drink of water.
  • There are specific games created for the COVID-19 pandemic, such as Stay at Home Scavenger Hunt, where you build social connections while remaining physically distant, and Stay Strong in a Pandemic that provides skills to help you through this time.

What to look out for

  • For gamers, SuperBetter may seem too basic.

Best forFeaturesPlatformsPrice
Headspacemeditation• meditations
• music
• bedtime stories
• exercises
• Android
• iPhone
• website
free for basic, $12.99 per month, $69.99 per year
Calmsleep• sleep stories
• meditations
• soundscapes
• Android
• iPhone
• website
free for basic, $14.99 per month, $69.99 per year
Youperself-guided therapy• CBT techniques
• AI support chat
• Android
• iPhone
• website
free for basic, $3.75 per month, $44.99 per year for emotional health plan
Sanvellocommunity support• peer support
• goal and mood tracking
• Android
• iPhone
• website
$8.99 per month, $50 per month, $53.99 per year for self-care plan
WysaAI therapy• AI chat
• CBT techniques
• meditation
• Android
• iPhone
free AI chat, $11.99 per month for tools, well-being coach, or therapist
SuperBetterGame• game to develop resilience• Android
• iPhone
• website
free

If you didn’t find what you were looking for in this list, here are some basic tips to help you find an app that’s right for you:

  • Your goal. What do you want your app to do? Do you want to learn self-care techniques? To connect with others? Or connect with a real therapist?
  • Price. Are you looking for a free app? Are you willing to pay more for greater features?
  • User reviews. Are current users happy with the app? What are the app’s pros and cons?
  • User friendliness. Is the app easy to navigate for new users?

Living with depression isn’t always easy — and adding a pandemic to the mix makes it even more difficult.

Having a variety of tools available to manage your symptoms can help you get through those challenging moments or days. And, hopefully, improve your mood and overall energy.

While apps can’t replace medication and therapy, they can be helpful tools in relieving some symptoms of depression.

Want to learn more about depression? Psych Central’s Let’s Talk About: Depression resource can help.

If you’re considering self-harm or suicide, help is available

If you’re having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, you can access free support right away with these resources:

  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call the Lifeline at 800-273-8255, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • The Crisis Text Line. Text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
  • The Trevor Project. LGBTQIA+ and under 25 years old? Call 866-488-7386, text “START” to 678678, or chat online 24-7.
  • Veterans Crisis Line. Call 800-273-8255, text 838255, or chat online 24-7.
  • Deaf Crisis Line. Call 321-800-DEAF (3323) or text “HAND” at 839863.
  • Befrienders Worldwide. This international crisis helpline network can help you find a local helpline.