Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 8/28/2022
Depression podcast: a podcast for depressed people or a podcast that causes depression?
We’re guessing most people wouldn’t know what to make of the idea of a “depression podcast” in any context, whether it’s useful, useless or somewhere in between.
If you have depression and love podcasts, though, you may have a more specific hope: to find a podcast that helps you learn more about and ultimately better manage your own depression.
Can a mental health podcast help you with your mental health issues? Is it wise to hop into the world of podcasts looking for the right content to help with your mood disorder, or should you stick to the scientifically proven treatment methods like behavioral therapy, medication and taking care of your health?
The answers to these questions and more on this week’s episode.
A depression podcast isn’t a regulated term — it can mean anything.
Depression podcasts might be informational podcasts that look at depression research, they may be podcasts where people with depression talk about their personal experiences, they may be a combination of the two or they may do something else entirely.
A depression podcast really just has to be a podcast about depression, and therein lies the opportunity and the danger.
You could start a depression podcast. Your friend who can’t seem to find a partner could start a relationship advice podcast. There aren’t standards in the space.
While the cream of the crop tends to rise to the top, the most important theme when exploring depression podcasts is caution.
Some research has shown that these materials can be useful, as in one 2022 study that explored the utility of podcasts for students studying psychology.
That study found that podcasts that explored core concepts and existing knowledge were considered useful or very useful by 100 percent of respondents, and that they considered the narrative and conversational styles and case-based episodes more useful than others.
Whether or not that study’s findings applies to the average person remains to be seen.
There is a case to be made for a podcast as a way to help people take care of their own health, though.
In the big picture, however, self-guided listening and learning materials really fit into the self-help category of materials. While these may be effective supplements to other forms of treatment, they fall short as singular treatments.
In other words, while self-help and personal development materials may make treatment more cost-effective in the big picture, most studies to date have failed to find any substantial proof that listening, reading or other forms of “learning about it yourself” are effective in the management of depressive disorders.
There is no established rubric for determining whether a podcast is good for your mental health. We’re just not there yet as far as science goes, so you’ll have to use some discretion.
Telling whether a depression podcast is good or not isn’t a simple process, but generally there are some guidelines you should keep in mind.
Ask yourself who’s hosting this podcast. Are they someone with depression sharing their own experiences? Are they a medical or mental health expert? Are they getting their information from experts or fringe personalities in the space?
Who are their sponsors if they have any? It’s right to be suspicious of a podcast that says the cure for depression is better organization of your life, but if they’re sponsored by a certain store where containers are sold, you may want to raise both eyebrows.
Finding the right podcast for your needs may be subjective, but there are some types of podcasts that offer the clearest path to getting informed and finding ways to make use of that information. Here are four we suggest you look into:
Not every podcast on mental health topics has to tell a story or focus on people — some resources are great just for delivering raw facts.
Podcasts that share research, recent findings, and the results of clinical studies can be a great way to learn more.
A mental health advocate walking you through this information in a concise, informative and entertaining way can be a great way to learn the ropes of depression while cleaning your apartment or doing other chores.
Self-help podcasts where the host, hosts or guests share personal experiences with depression can be a great way to feel like you’re not alone in your struggles.
It can also present a different viewpoint on your own experiences.
The best of these will also offer some recommendations on how to deal with those depressive episodes and the symptoms of depression in your daily life, like loss of interest in things you used to care about.
Podcasts hosted by or featuring experts are a great place to go for information generally, and that’s likely true for depression, as well.
Whether they’re a professor of psychiatry, or researchers, doctors, therapists or journalists with experience in the field of depressive disorders, experts can provide a lot of useful, context-based information.
And they can likely do so just as well in a podcast as in a journal article, news article or video.
Mental illnesses are nebulous topics and sometimes it can help to look at them through single examples, and single stories.
What’s a better way to learn something than from a story?
Narrative podcasts are a great way for hosts to unpack case studies, research discoveries or break down personal experiences of others in a confined, episodic space.
And you get the benefit of the information all while being entertained with a story.
Depression is a difficult disorder for many people, and it’s often not something that can be dealt with by switching up your recreational listening content.
The reality of depression is that, even with some really good podcasts in your phone or on your computer, you’re still going to need some non-streaming support to deal with the symptoms and learn to combat the negative thoughts and other emotional issues associated with the condition.
If you’re ready to give yourself a mentally healthy life, a therapist or other healthcare professional can give you advice on what actual depression treatments will best suit your needs.
Generally, people see benefits from therapy and antidepressant medications when their depression begins to affect their quality of life (incidentally, we can’t say the same for what they listen to on Spotify).
If you’ve been dealing with depressive symptoms for some time, it may be worth talking to a professional about what’s troubling you.
They may recommend some good listening for your commute, but they'll more than likely offer a more well-rounded collection of treatments for depression tailored to your unique symptoms and needs.
A podcast is no substitute for a therapy session — healthcare providers know the best approach to depression treatment is the stuff proven by science.
So, what’s “up next” for your depression journey?
Loading up your playlist with a weekly podcast about depression might be a great way to dive into the world of the mood disorder affecting your daily life. But if you’re struggling and looking for ways to get control back, you’re not likely to find those in your earbuds.
A better solution is probably seeking professional help in the form of proven treatments for depression, and that starts with a conversation with a healthcare professional.
A healthcare professional is going to be your entry into therapy, medication and other means of addressing your mental health concerns and dealing with symptoms of depression.
If you’re ready to take those steps now, consider taking them with us — our online mental health resources are available right now, and online therapy through our online portal is a click away.
Feel free to add the podcasts to your commute or your exercise schedule, but for your own health and wellbeing, get professional support today. To keep reading check out our post on the best podcasts for anxiety.