Smartphone apps created for people with depression and other mental health challenges are gaining popularity.
When a person is struggling with a mental health disorder like depression, they may not know how or where to seek help. Those who lack access to mental health care resources find it even more challenging to know where to turn.
Today, the options go beyond traditional counseling and medication. There are new technology-driven alternatives that are much more cost-effective and easy to access. Helpful apps for depression can support a range of needs, from immediate intervention and diagnosis to treatment and post-treatment support. We’ve compiled a list of the 10 best apps for depression currently available from the convenience of your smartphone.
Feelings of depression or anxiety can lead to suicidal thinking. If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts or tendencies, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
People are often hesitant to discuss their challenges with depression because of the stigma that surrounds mental health issues. For those who are uncomfortable or unable to talk to someone face-to-face, emotional chat apps for depression are a great option.
Relying on emotional artificial intelligence (AI), these bots learn how to “talk to” and support a user based on their responses, language choices and tone. The more a user interacts with a bot, the more personalized the support becomes. Replika, Woebot and Youper are three of the most popular chatbot apps that use AI for depression.
The Replika app is described as “your private perceptual world,” where you can openly share your thoughts and emotions. Whether you simply want to track what’s been on your mind or you need help with anxiety or depression, this free chatbot tool provides 24/7 support. Replika reviews say that the app AI is incredibly realistic.
Woebot is a free app built on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy. The Woebot app team, led by a clinical psychologist, developed this chatbot tool to help people who don’t have access to mental health care. It helps users explore their emotions, track their mood and manage feelings of depression. According to an initial study, those who used Woebot during the research period experienced significantly reduced symptoms of depression, while those in the control group did not. Woebot reviews also say that the app is incredibly helpful.
Created by a clinical psychiatrist and a team of AI experts, the Youper app is designed to improve overall mental well-being. Using meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy, Youper’s “emotional health assistant” provides tools and insights to help people with depression and anxiety.
The app helps users become more mindful of their mood, better understand their personality and find meditation tools that work well for them. The Youper app has impressive reviews and a five-star rating in the App Store. The basic version is free to download, and additional features can be unlocked for $12.99 per month or $94.99 per year.
Additional Apps for Depression
While the above options are considered some of the best apps for depression, a quick search on the App Store or Google Play Store delivers many other apps to choose from. Here are more helpful apps for depression to consider.
Backed by The Recovery Village, the Nobu app can help anyone who’s concerned about depression — whether you’ve been diagnosed or you’re concerned about possible symptoms. Reviewers describe Nobu as easy to use and helpful in managing feelings and overall mental state. It is free to download with clinical assessments, journaling, mental health lessons and a mood tracker. Online therapy appointments are also available for an additional fee.
The MindDoc app offers a psychological assessment as well as mood tracking and access to psychological exercises.
Reviews for the free Sanvello app share that it’s a valuable mental health tool, offering habit and mood tracking options as well as meditation exercises. All of its resources are based in cognitive behavior therapy. The download is free, and users can upgrade to Sanvello Full Access for $3.99.
The Happify app helps relieve everyday stress and anxiety through activities that inspire positivity. Happify reviews describe the app as compassionate and a life-changer. The basic download is free, and Happify Plus can be purchased for $14.99 per month.
With the free Moodnotes app, users are encouraged to track their thoughts and mood over a period of time to identify patterns and improve their overall sense of well-being. Moodnotes is only available for download on iPhones from the Apple Store at this time.
Using cognitive behavioral therapy and acceptance commitment therapy, the What’s Up? app supports people with mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety. It is free to download, and its reviews relay positive feedback about the tool.
The TalkLife app is a unique option that offers anonymous peer-to-peer support. It’s free to download, and users can reach for the app when they need someone to talk to — day or night. TalkLife app reviews applaud its format, which allows users to give and receive support.
The Calm app is known for guided meditation exercises and sleep stories. Users can download the basic version for free or choose to upgrade to Calm Premium. Calm app reviews share that the app has had a very positive effect on their mental health.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health disorder in addition to a co-occurring addiction, contact The Recovery Village. We provide a wide variety of treatment options that are tailored to meet each person’s unique needs.
Chandrashekar, Pooja. “Do mental health mobile apps work: evide[…] health mobile apps.” mHealth, March 23, 2018. Accessed June 5, 2019.
Fitzpatrick, Kathleen; Darcy, Allison; Vierhile, Molly. “Delivering Cognitive Behavior Therapy to[…]ed Controlled Trial.” JMIR Mental Health, June 6, 2017. Accessed June 5, 2019.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.