Digital depression therapy offers hope during COVID-19 pandemic

A new digital therapy is aiming to tackle depression during the COVID-19 pandemic, using a brain stimulation headset and therapy app that claims to have similar beneficial effects to drugs but with fewer side-effects.

Flow is the first drug-free at-home treatment of its type to be approved in the EU and UK.

While using the Flow headset, patients engaged with a therapy app program, which offers personalised behavioural therapy in areas proven to reduce symptoms of depression, including nutrition, exercise and sleep. NHS trusts and healthcare professionals can now recommend the Flow app to patients as it was recently added to the ORCHA App Library.

UK clinics, including The Chelsea Psychology Clinic in London, are now offering patients the Flow treatment in combination with traditional therapy options.

In a user analysis, the manufacturer said 81% of 850 patients involved reported feeling better after three weeks of treatment while 34% of patients reported an improvement in their mood.

Meanwhile 32% of patients reported a reduction in anxiety and 29% reported a reduction in suicidal thoughts.

The transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) used in the Flow headset has been shown in several clinical randomised controlled trials, including New England Journal of Medicine and the British Journal of Psychiatry, to have a similar impact to antidepressants, but with fewer and less-severe side effects.

The manufacturer said that the tool could be used during the pandemic when home-based treatments are becoming increasingly popular.

Daniel Mansson, clinical psychologist and co-founder of Flow, said: “COVID is changing how depression is managed, and driving a meaningful increase in demand for effective, at-home treatments that are safe, have minimal side effects and do not require a prescription.

“The results in this user analysis are comparable to antidepressants and demonstrate the significant benefits of using Flow to self-manage depression.

“They add to the growing body of medical evidence that supports the use of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) for the treatment of depression.”

The headset can be bought over the internet for £399, which can be split into three payments, and the app is free to download on AppStore and GooglePlay.





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