Online Therapy for Depression

pretty brunette woman using laptop for online depression therapy

Depression & Its Impact

According to the 2019 Arizona State Health Assessment, more than 20 percent of the state’s residents between the ages of 18–25 reported having a mental illness, but only about half of them received treatment. Of all adults over 26 in the state, 17 percent have mental illness issues, and only 12 percent received health services. This assessment also states more than 18 percent of Arizonans have depression—and at the time of the report, “suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among adults 22–44,” with men at a much greater risk than women.

In 2018, the American Academy of Family Physicians referenced a National Center for Health Statistics report that close to 1 in 12 adults in the United States have depression, and further indicated “the prevalence of depression among women was almost double that seen in men.”

Types of depression include:

Another vital factor about depression: Mental Health America (MHA) reports in 2020 that in Arizona, 13 percent of young people ages 12–17 “suffered at least one major depressive episode in the past year.” Further, MHA states that if left untreated, depression progresses into adulthood.

Signs of Depression

Many areas of the brain impact depression, including the following:

  • Amygdala, which is part of the limbic system and responsible for many emotions, such as anger, fear, pleasure, sadness, and sexual arousal.
  • Hippocampus, also in the limbic system, which helps process long-term memory and works in tandem with the amygdala’s fear response.
  • Thalamus, which is the relay for sensory information to reach the cerebral cortex, where functions such as behavioral reactions, learning, movement, thinking, and speech originate.

Generally speaking, people with depressive conditions have numerous neurotransmitters that don’t always function properly, affecting many aspects of daily life and behavior.

Depression symptoms include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Anger, agitation, or irritability
  • An inability to function optimally in daily life
  • Changes in appetite and sleep patterns
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Excessive guilt or self-hate
  • Extreme sadness, including feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Hopelessness
  • Insomnia
  • Isolation or increasing withdrawal from activities and people
  • Lack of personal care
  • Thoughts of suicide

MHA offers a free online screening for people to answer questions about experiences and emotions they have and learn how to follow up on potential treatment.

Online Depression Therapy

One primary reason people suffer with depression unnecessarily is lack of access to treatment. Poverty, location, insurance restrictions, and lack of mental health providers all contribute to this problem.

Over the past decade, online listening and therapy services created new possibilities for care. These resources may be available through audio or video, and often provide an essential first step to getting proper treatment.

In 2018, the Journal of Anxiety Disorders reported study findings that indicated “meta-analyzed internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy” is effective for anxiety and depressive disorders, defining it as “effective, acceptable, and practical health care.”

John Grohol, founder and editor-in-chief of Psych Central, outlined some pros and cons of online therapy:


  • Depending on the structure, the perception of anonymity in therapy chat rooms helps people be more honest about their experiences.
  • Other forms of an individual’s contact with a therapist, such as email, text, or chat room, are easier for both of them in certain circumstances than a face-to-face meeting to maintain consistency of care.
  • Similar to telemedicine, if a person needs a specialist but there isn’t one close by, online services provide ready access.
  • From what Grohol has noticed so far, “e-therapy” is sometimes less expensive than in-person sessions.


  • The lack of non-verbal, face-to-face communication cues —not always easily seen through a video or audio chat—might pose a problem, but generally fosters better listening skills.
  • While anonymity might make some participants feel comfortable, if they’re in real danger due to trauma or suicidal thoughts, online therapists have a more difficult time intervening.
  • It can be difficult to verify a therapist’s credentials.
  • Each state has its own licensing requirements. Some therapists may break the law by working with clients who live in states in which the therapist is not licensed.
  • If a participant needs to file a grievance or care complaint, there’s not a clear-cut path to follow through the proper channels.

Overall, Grohol feels that clinicians should research online therapy and how to provide it effectively in order to provide the best service to clients.

Online Depression Therapy: Talk to Someone Right Now

There are online resources for both free and paid support. Using free emotional support is a helpful choice when you’re having trouble coping and just need to talk with someone. While many of these services provide trained listeners, others offer peer support. These sites aren’t designed to take the place of proper therapy but can be an important conduit to online or local professional counselors.

Chats, apps, and hotlines include:

Online depression therapy sites often include a bundle of services, and sometimes their counselors work on a sliding scale to make it easier to access initial treatment. In addition to some of the options referenced above, potential resources include:

Before starting an online therapy session, it’s critical to ask for credentials and references to make sure you receive safe, quality care.

Consider Inpatient Care at Cottonwood Tucson

The expert clinicians at Cottonwood Tucson believe depression and other mood disorders can be treated with a whole person approach to medical care—in fact, our facility is nationally recognized for our innovative inpatient depression program. Learn why inpatient care may be the best choice for you or a loved one.

Are you or someone you care about in search of depression treatment near Tucson? For more information about Cottonwood Tucson, call (888) 727-0441. We are ready to help you or your loved one find lasting recovery.

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