Flow headset is now approved to use neuroscience to treat depression

Brain zapping wearable gets thumbs up in the UK
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Swedish health tech startup Flow Neuroscience has been given regulatory approval in the UK to start selling its headset that's designed to treat depression without the use of medication.

Tapping into neuroscience and a technique known as Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS), the headset is paired with the startup's AI-powered, app therapy program. It can be used in your own home and aims to reduce the effects of acute depression over an initial period of six weeks, with a follow up phase after that.

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The companion app also includes guidance and tasks around how best to eat, sleep, exercise and meditate to combat depression, based on well established behavioural activation techniques.

Flow headset is now approved to use neuroscience to treat depression

The setup has been used in randomised controlled trials published in the New England Journal of Medicine and the British Journal of Psychiatry. Those trials showed that brain stimulation had a similar impact to antidepressants with fewer and less-severe side effects.

We spoke to Flow Neuroscience's CEO Daniel Mansson last year who gave us an insight into how effective he believed the tech could be to treat depression. "By doing this about 30 minutes a day, 18 sessions during a six week period – it’s spread out – you can get a reduction in depression roughly equivalent to antidepressant medication," said Mansson. "The big thing about this technology is that you get fewer and less severe side effects than with, for example, the newest forms of antidepressant medication."

The startup had been working with the British Standards Institution to secure classification for the Flow as a Class II medical device that's intended for use as treatment for depression. It had to wait for that certification before putting the headset on anyone's head as a medical treatment device.

The Flow headset is available to buy now from the startup's website with the headset priced at and refill pads, which are designed to make the treatment more comfortable available for £19.

Flow headset is now approved to use neuroscience to treat depression

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Michael Sawh


Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of T3.com.

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.

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