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.
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.
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.