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How to Get Free or Low-Cost Treatment for Depression


Updated May 16, 2014

How to get low cost treatment for depression
Nicholas Eveleigh Collection/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Perhaps the only thing worse than depression is having depression and not being able to afford treatment. I frequently get letters from those of you who are in just this predicament. I've collected here all of the free and low-cost resources and ideas that I have come across in the past couple of years. I will continue to add more as I find them. If you have a suggestion for something that I've overlooked please write to me at depression@aboutguide.com.


Pill Splitting - An article in the September 1999 issue of Clinical Psychiatry News reports that you may be able to purchase a higher dose pill at a cost only slightly more than the dose you're currently on and split them in half. In a presentation to the APA, it was reported that patients can save an average of 37% off their current medication costs by pill splitting. A list of the medications surveyed included popular antidepressants.


Needy Meds - According to their website: "NeedyMeds is a 501(3)(c) non-profit with the mission of helping people who cannot afford medicine or healthcare costs. The information at NeedyMeds is available anonymously and free of charge."

The Medicine Program - The Medicine Program's free services include: a prescription plan, a 24-hour nurse hotline, a dental plan, a medical plan, a vision plan and medical records storage. Their benefits are subsidized by running Google ads on their site.

Free Samples - Often pharmaceutical companies provide physicians with free samples. Ask your doctor is he/she has any samples on hand of your medication. I used to get all my Buspar this way.


There are several herbals and nutraceuticals on the market that are reputed to work well as antidepressants and anti-anxiety treatments. They are inexpensive and do not require a prescription. St. John's Wort, melatonin, Kava Kava and Valerian have all been very effective for me personally.

St. John's Wort (depression)

Evening Primrose Oil (PMS, PMDD)

5-HTP (depression)

SAM-e (depression)

Vitamins and Minerals (depression)

Kava Kava (anxiety)

Valerian (anxiety and sleep)

Melatonin (sleep)


Sliding Scale Fees - Some providers may have sliding-scale fees. Based on your income, the provider will reduce his or her fees.

Negotiate a Lower Fee with Your Doctor - Other providers, if they are aware of your financial limitations, may be willing to negotiate a payment plan that you can afford or to lower their rates according to what your insurance plan pays.

Community Mental Health Centers - Many communities have community mental health centers (CMHCs). These centers offer a range of mental health treatment and counseling services, usually at a reduced rate for low-income people. CMHCs generally require that you have a private insurance plan or be a recipient of public assistance.

For more information about Community Mental Health Centers:

National Council for Community Behavioral Health Care

12300 Twinbrook Parkway, Suite 320

Rockville, MD 20850

voice: 301-984-6200

fax: 301-881-7159

Email: Communications@thenationalcouncil.org


Pastoral Counseling Programs - Your church or synagogue can put you in touch with a pastoral counseling program. Certified pastoral counselors, who are ministers in a recognized religious body, have advanced degrees in pastoral counseling, as well as professional counseling experience. Pastoral counseling is often provided on a sliding-scale fee.

For more information about Pastoral Counseling Programs:

American Association of Pastoral Counselors

9504-A Lee Highway

Fairfax, VA 22031-2303

voice: 703-385-6967

fax: 703-352-7725


e-mail: info@aapc.org


Another option is to join a self-help or support group. These groups give people a chance to talk about and work on their common problems-such as alcoholism, substance abuse, depression, family issues, and relationships. Self-help groups are generally free and can be found in most communities. You may also join an online support group right here at About. We have a support group meeting 24 hours a day in our chat room.

For more information about Self-Help Groups:

American Self-Help Clearinghouse

Northwest Covenant Medical Center

25 Pocono Road

Denville, NJ 07834-2995

voice: 201-625-9565

fax: 201-625-9565


National Mental Health Self-Help Clearinghouse

1211 Chestnut Street, Suite 1000

Philadelphia, PA 19107


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