Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 1/9/2023
Five percent of the world’s population has depression, according to the World Health Organization. That means that nearly 300 million people suffer from depressive disorders. If you’re among those feeling overwhelmed and unable to get out of bed — or worse — it may be time to call a depression hotline.
A bit of background: depression is a mood disorder that can affect every element of your life. This mental illness is characterized by fatigue, low self-esteem, hopelessness and feelings of sadness or emptiness.
But arguably one of the most dangerous symptoms of depression is often the most overlooked: isolation. If you’ve been feeling isolated amid all those other unpleasant feelings, you’re one of hundreds of millions of people with similar experiences.
Unfortunately, despite the number of individuals who share this affliction, isolation is common, and it can prevent people from seeking help for depression.
You may have come to the “logical” conclusion that you’re a burden, that no one wants to talk to you, or that you’re not “worth” helping. That’s the depression talking.
These are all depressive thoughts — intrusive patterns of thinking that are a result of depression itself, not of reality.
If feeling this way has you run down, hopeless and thinking you have nowhere to turn for support, it may be time to call a hotline for depression.
A depression hotline is a phone line or internet communication point with dedicated professionals available to talk when you’re feeling really down and hopeless.
These calls are confidential. You don’t need to give your real name, and unless you’re threatening imminent harm to yourself, no one’s gonna call the police just because you sought help.
Depression hotlines come from several sources. Local, state and federal governments, non-governmental organizations and some religious groups operate these lines as a service.
In most cases, the people you talk to are volunteers. Some may be healthcare professionals, but everyone who works at these call centers is trained on how to respond in a supportive way without causing further damage (unlike the people in your life who may sometimes say the wrong things).
That’s right. You won’t hear “Get over it,” or “Have you tried taking a walk outside?” or “You have a good life — what’s there to be depressed about?” from any of the people who might pick up.
Often referred to interchangeably with suicide hotlines or helplines, depression hotlines aren’t just for those considering suicide — they’re for anyone who feels alone, isolated or emotional distress.
These services are open to everyone who needs support, with or without a diagnosis for clinical depression.
If you’re wondering if you meet the qualifications to call a depression hotline, you already do. There are no qualifications — there’s no minimum depression standard.
These services are free and open to anyone, and there aren’t any requirements to call them. You don’t need to be on the verge of a collapse, and you don’t need to be suicidal or at the end of your wits to access one. You just need to want to talk to someone about how you’re feeling.
Most depression hotlines are staffed 24/7, meaning they’re available every day of the week, any time of day or night.
One thing that may vary from hotline to hotline is specialization. For instance, veterans, teens, members of the LGBTQ+ community and the elderly can all seek specialized help when they’re feeling down, isolated or desperate.
The depression hotlines we rounded up below represent just a few key resources for people with depression. And unless otherwise noted, they’re open to everyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or any other social division.
But this isn’t a complete list. Your local or state government, religious groups you belong to and other organizations may offer similar support. A quick Google search can lead you to more localized resources should you need them.
That said, the below list of national depression hotlines is comprehensive in that anyone can find help today. If you’re ready to talk to someone, these are the places to start.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is free and confidential. In 2022, it was given a convenient three-digit shortcut number to get people the help they need more quickly.
While this helpline is directed toward folks who are feeling suicidal, it also provides prevention resources and can connect you to local crisis centers. Most importantly, you don’t need to be thinking about suicide to get help.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7. For hard-of-hearing people or those who prefer text, Lifeline Chat is a direct connection to counselors you can tap into without dialing.
Samaritans is a volunteer-staffed text and call service offering support for those considering suicide, as well as people who’ve lost someone to suicide. The service is free and confidential, and emotional support is open to anyone grieving a suicide-related loss.
Seniors suffer some of the worst depressive symptoms due to their relatively high rates of disability and isolation. The Institute on Aging’s Friendship Line provides the 60-plus community with emotional support and suicide intervention resources.
Volunteers are also there just to listen. They offer grief support and are trained to deal with depression symptoms and loneliness in the older age bracket.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides free and confidential support from trained professionals for veterans in emotional or mental crises. This helpline is open to all service members and veterans, including the National Guard and Reserves.
In certain circumstances, friends and family can also get resources and emotional support, even if they aren't veterans themselves. Reach out today via phone or use the crisis chat.
The LGBT National Hotline isn’t available 24/7, but it does have support hours available Monday through Saturday where you can get confidential peer support in a safe space.
Volunteers can help you with emotional support, advice and resources on topics like gender identity, sexual identity, relationship issues, bullying, self-harm or the process of coming out.
Founded in 1998, The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention for young people who are members of the LGBTQ community. The national organization’s resources can be reached via phone and text message. Confidential support and trained counselors are available 24/7.
Other youth hotlines and resources can be found with the National Youth Crisis Hotline, the Boys and Girls Town National Hotline, the National Runaway Safeline and the Childhelp USA Hotline.
The SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) Disaster Distress Helpline is a specialized hotline that can support people in emotional crises due to a natural disaster like a flood, earthquake, hurricane, tornado or fire. If depression, anxiety or stress has resulted from one of these events, you can call the number for 24/7 support.
Here are a few additional resources to explore.
While it’s not considered a crisis line, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine can provide various resources, referrals, community support and other forms of helpful information for anyone in a depression crisis or struggling with a mental health condition.
Hate phone calls? If you’re like many younger people, you’d do just about anything to avoid a phone call. Luckily, the Crisis Text Line offers text-based support from crisis workers.
Counselors respond to your texts immediately and privately from this secure platform. It’s free and available 24/7 within the United States.
The SAMHSA National Helpline is another 24/7 hotline. Unlike the suicide prevention hotline, this one provides information and referrals primarily for mental health and substance abuse issues — and importantly, it doesn’t provide counseling.
SAMHSA can connect you with treatment facilities, support groups and behavioral health treatment services that may help if you’re in need. You can also check out the online treatment locator for virtual support.
You’re not alone in this fight against depression. One in five adults in the United States experiences mental illness each year. But like calls to depression helplines, these numbers aren’t a lasting comfort — nor are they a treatment.
Depression hotlines, depression helplines and suicide hotlines are reliable resources when you feel like you’re out of options. But once that depressive episode and deep feeling of hopelessness pass (and they will), you should look beyond phone, text and chat services for support.
Managing a depressive disorder requires more than the occasional phone call — it requires professional treatment.
Medication, therapy and lifestyle changes can help you take a very ominous and overwhelming condition like depression and turn it into a tolerable issue. Proper treatment can make how you’re feeling now a relic of the past and put you back in control while restoring your sense of self-worth and control over your life.
If you’re ready to take that step, don’t hesitate to contact a healthcare professional. Our online therapy platform is a convenient, 24/7 remote access point for mental health professionals and mental health resources.
No one deserves to feel like they have no options. Start considering yours today.