Written by Becky Banham
Becky Banham
Life Coach Directory Content Team

Last updated 21st March 2024 | Next update due 21st March 2027

Many of us will feel down from time to time. It’s a normal part of life and a part of what makes us human. But, for some, feeling down can turn into something more. It can lead to an ongoing feeling of hopelessness or inadequacy. This can, in turn, lead to depression.

On this page, we will look at how coaching can help to address some of the issues caused by depression, including the differences between coaching and counselling, and how coaching could complement your treatment.

What is depression? 

Depression (also known as depressive disorder or clinical depression) is when someone feels persistently low for weeks or months. It can be short or long-term. Depression is much more common than people may think, with around 4-10% of people in England experiencing it in their lifetime, according to the Mental Health Foundation. It tends to affect more women and people assigned female at birth than men, though anybody can experience depression at any age. 

What are the causes of depression? 

There is no one cause of depression. People respond to events in their lives differently which might mean they're more likely to feel depressed. Some of the reasons behind why someone might feel persistently low or sad include:

  • bereavement
  • being made redundant 
  • separation or divorce 
  • financial worries
  • genetics (you may be more likely to experience depression if there is a history in your family)
  • during or after pregnancy (known as antenatal/postnatal depression)
  • physical illness or chronic pain 

What are the symptoms of depression? 

Feeling sad or low is common but if it persists for two weeks or more, you may have depression. Other signs that you might be depressed include:

  • lacking energy or feeling fatigued 
  • not enjoying the things you used to 
  • feeling worthless or helpless
  • feeling irritable or easily frustrated
  • having difficulty concentrating or remembering 
  • having trouble sleeping 
  • having thoughts of self-harm or suicide 

If you believe you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 999 or go to your local A&E. You can also call Samaritans on 116 123.

If you live with depression, you will already know how debilitating the symptoms can be and, left untreated, it can become very serious. Fortunately, depression can be managed and treated. It’s important to seek help from a medical professional if you think you are suffering from depression. If your doctor diagnoses you, there are a number of treatment options you can try, including psychotherapy and antidepressant medication. Coaching can also be an effective complement to treatment. Keep reading to find out more about the options available. 

Should I see a coach or a counsellor for depression?

It’s important to note that there is a difference between coaching and psychotherapy and, therefore, a difference between coaches and counsellors. Mental health conditions like clinical depression or anxiety disorders often require diagnosis and treatment from a mental health professional.

Coaches are not able to diagnose depression or any other mental illness - unless they have obtained additional qualifications to do so. Coaching can, by all means, be helpful for those with conditions like this, but it is generally encouraged to be in addition to (not in place of) talk therapy or other medical treatments.

If you think you would benefit from counselling or would like to explore it as a treatment option, visit Counselling Directory to find out more about counselling for depression and find a therapist online or near you. 

In some cases, a counsellor may refer a patient to a coach to help them follow through with therapeutic goals. This combined approach from counsellor and coach ensures all the needs of the patient get addressed.

How does coaching for depression differ from counselling?

Recovery from mental illness is an individual journey; no two people’s experiences will look the same. Some people will respond well to therapy, whereas coaching techniques may be better suited to others.

Whilst coaching is not typically viewed as a treatment for mental health conditions, for many, coaching serves as a useful addition to their existing treatment programme. Coaching can play an important role in recovery, offering encouragement and support to those struggling to engage in day-to-day activities and to cope better with symptoms. For example, a coach may motivate you to take up exercise and improve your sleep habits.

Generally speaking, coaching looks forward to the future and helps you make meaningful change, whereas the purpose of counselling is to go back to help you understand the underlying reason for your depression and help you manage symptoms. 

Many people find it useful to seek help from both a counsellor and a coach as they can help in different ways. If you are unsure which approach to take, speak to your doctor for further guidance and contact some coaches to learn more about what support they can offer.

If you haven't been officially diagnosed with depression, but recognise that you experience some of the symptoms, coaching can help you to change your outlook and tackle any issues that may be affecting your mental health.

How can a coach help me overcome depression?

A big part of depression coaching is establishing what area of your life you want to work on and setting goals to move forward. Depression can lead people to have a tendency towards negative feelings and emotions, which can make it difficult to find motivation. If you have depressive symptoms, you may find yourself feeling lethargic and uninterested. Meeting regularly with a coach can offer a regular dose of optimism and energy.

It’s important to remember that we are all more than our mental health; we are more than labels. Our well-being can fluctuate throughout our lives, often in response to changes that are occurring for us. Coaching can provide you with the techniques to deal with the ups and downs and to live the life you want. 

Every coaching session allows you the opportunity to focus on the 'new you' - on the 'you' that you want to become. Together with your coach, you can work on removing negative and unhelpful ways of thinking. This helps to make way for more positive and productive ways of thinking.

Understanding what's missing in your life in terms of joy is important, to maintain good mental health in the future. A life coach can help you identify areas that may be lacking while helping you find ways to fill these areas with more joy. This may include nurturing your relationships, finding ways to de-stress or even starting a new hobby.


Neuro-linguistic programming, or NLP, is the practice of harnessing the power of language to break down the mental barriers we unknowingly create for ourselves. At its heart, it combines elements of mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy, which can be helpful in overcoming anxiety and depression.

Working with a coach will allow you to really get to the bottom of underlying issues so that you can manage your life more resourcefully and move forward. Valuable NLP techniques will introduce you to new ways of thinking, which in turn, will bring balance to your life.


Self-care techniques and general lifestyle changes can help manage symptoms of many mental health problems, as well as help to maintain and improve overall well-being. If self-care isn’t high on your agenda at present, a coach can help you to prioritise and make time for wellness activities of your own. These activities will help you not only to recover from periods of mental ill-health but also to maintain good mental health in the future.

Here are 12 easy ways you can maintain mental well-being and combat depression.  

What will happen in a depression coaching session?

Before you begin your coaching sessions, you will be invited to meet or speak to your coach for an initial consultation. Here you get the chance to talk to your coach about what you hope to gain from the experience. At this point, it’s important to tell your coach if you have been diagnosed with depression or another mental health condition. You should tell them of any treatment you are undergoing and any medication you are taking. This is just to ensure the work you do with your coach works with existing treatment.

You will then decide with your coach how your sessions will progress. It is likely that you'll meet weekly. Many coaches will encourage you to carry out tasks at home to continue your progress. The nature of this work and the work within your sessions will be tailored to your specific needs.

Coaches who can help with depression

Online coaching for depression

Online coaching is becoming an increasingly popular option. This involves speaking to a coach via email, or a platform like Zoom or Skype. For those with depression and anxiety, this offers an opportunity to access support from anywhere and to engage at their own pace.

If you feel anxious or worried about going to see a coach in person, online coaching is another option you can try. Often coaches will provide self-help activities and offer feedback to help you stay on track with your treatment.

Just by being here, you're taking that first step towards reaching out and seeking support. Remember, depression is treatable but asking for help early is key. Connect with a coach today to start your healing journey. 

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