A brain stimulation headset has been shown to help improve the mood of people suffering from depression. 

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

In the largest user analysis of its type, 81% of patients using a brain stimulation headset and therapy app to treat depression reported feeling better after three weeks, with minimal side effects.  

34% of patients reported an improvement in their mood, while 32% of patients reported a reduction in anxiety and 29% reported a reduction in suicidal thoughts. 

“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,” said Daniel Mansson, clinical psychologist and co-founder of Flow.  

“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 – and gives further impetus for the NHS to add Flow as one of their first lines of treatment.” 

The Flow

The type of brain stimulation used in the Flow headset (tDCS) has been shown in numerous 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. 

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

Depression is the leading cause of global disability, affecting over 300 million people, with a huge cost for healthcare systems worldwide. Nearly one in four adults in the UK are affected by a mental illness. 

The economic cost of mental illness in the UK is an estimated £105.2 billion, and one in three work sickness notes handed out by GPs are for mental health reasons, including depression. 

While using the Flow tDCS 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.  

The Flow headset is available to buy here and can be delivered in 48 hours. The Flow app is free to download on AppStore and GooglePlay. 

Mental healthNeuroscience