Enhanced bursting activity of neurons in the lateral habenula (LHb) is essential in driving depression-like behaviours, but the cause of this increase has been unknown. Here, using a high-throughput quantitative proteomic screen, we show that an astroglial potassium channel (Kir4.1) is upregulated in the LHb in rat models of depression. Kir4.1 in the LHb shows a distinct pattern of expression on astrocytic membrane processes that wrap tightly around the neuronal soma. Electrophysiology and modelling data show that the level of Kir4.1 on astrocytes tightly regulates the degree of membrane hyperpolarization and the amount of bursting activity of LHb neurons. Astrocyte-specific gain and loss of Kir4.1 in the LHb bidirectionally regulates neuronal bursting and depression-like symptoms. Together, these results show that a glia-neuron interaction at the perisomatic space of LHb is involved in setting the neuronal firing mode in models of a major psychiatric disease. Kir4.1 in the LHb might have potential as a target for treating clinical depression.