Demand for MedTech higher than ever as mental health services remain in crisis
Demand for MedTech higher than ever as mental health services remain in crisis
Flow Neuroscience sees need for home depression treatment rise by 80%
London, 23.12.21 - As the pandemic continues to affect mental health in UK populations, medical device company Flow Neuroscience has seen an 80% increase in demand for its accessible depression treatment in 2021 compared to the previous year.
Flow helps patients to manage their depression at home by providing a brain stimulation headset that uses transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) combined with a behavioural therapy treatment app.
tDCS, a long validated technique used in treating depression, is a form of neuromodulation that uses constant, low current delivered via electrodes on the head. The headset works by stimulating parts of the brain that are underactive in those with depression. At the same time, users interact with the Flow behavioural therapy app which improves areas known to have an impact on depression, including sleep and nutrition.
Flow’s internal data indicates that the effect of having limited access to mental health services, as well as people shying away from face-to-face meetings, has resulted in an 80% increase in the adoption for the at-home depression treatment. Flow’s user base currently stretches across 30 countries, including the whole of Europe, Brazil and Hong Kong..
Latest reports confirm that the pandemic has had a lasting impact on mental health as depression rates increase. According to the Office for National Statistics, one in five adults in the UK was experiencing depressive symptoms in early 2021. This is more than double the figure seen before the pandemic, with younger populations and women amongst some of the most affected. NHS mental health services are now reported to be at breaking point, highlighting the need for alternative accessible treatments.
The mental health crisis in numbers
Flow’s statistics indicate that 31% of users have reported that they are currently in therapy and on antidepressants whilst they use Flow, highlighting the growing interest from patients in multi-approach care plans to support their specific needs.
Furthermore, users of Flow are reporting that their mental health is impeding their ability to work, with 35% currently on sick leave. This has a profound impact both personally and economically for people handling mental illness in the wake of the pandemic.
Striving for faster treatment and personalised care
Many efforts are focused on addressing this growing demand for mental healthcare. The National Health Service is striving to meet the need for access with new proposals to improve waiting times and different treatment options to be offered as standard care for those with milder cases of depression. Flow’s founders, Daniel Månsson and Erik Rehn, decided to offer the Flow treatment for free for the first month in response to the impact of the pandemic.
“At Flow, we understand the importance of providing a rapid response to depressive symptoms as they occur. Equally, we know that finding a treatment that effectively reduces depressive symptoms is a very personal journey, and there is no silver bullet. Trying options, from different medications to therapy, is important but can take a long time.
“We believe in fair healthcare, which in our particular case means try before committing, offering the first month of treatment for free. Most people who respond to the Flow treatment will experience a reduction in their depressive symptoms during this period; however, depression is a complicated disease. As such, it is important people have access to evaluate treatments, and if they do not respond to a treatment, like Flow, they should not incur any costs.
To further improve access on a global scale, Flow is currently working towards reimbursement of their treatment with healthcare systems and health insurance providers across Europe and the UK to continue making tDCS treatment accessible outside of clinic settings.
Flow is a physical and behavioural at-home treatment for depression that comprises a brain stimulation headset and therapy app. It is the first and only medically approved treatment for depression of its kind in Europe. Classified as a Class IIa medical device, Flow was developed from the fields of clinical psychology, neuroscience and innovative technology. Flow empowers and motivates individuals to take control and self-manage their depression with effective, non-pharmacological, digital alternatives. Based in Malmö, Sweden, Flow was founded in 2016 by clinical psychologist Daniel Månsson and neuroscientist Erik Rehn. Their team consists of prominent researchers in the field of psychiatry and brain stimulation.
tDCS is a non-invasive, gentle brain stimulation technique that uses direct electrical currents to stimulate specific brain areas. A constant low current (0,5-2 mA) passes through two electrodes placed on the head, stimulating neural activity in the brain. The stimulation targets the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, an area involved in controlling cognitive skills and emotional expression; people diagnosed with depression have been found to have lower neural activity in that area.
The tDCs technique has been validated across longitudinal clinical trials using double-blinded RCT studies indicating that it is a safe and effective treatment for depression that provides a low-cost alternative with fewer side effects than current standard care options, such as antidepressants.
Notes to editors:
Flow treatment typically lasts for 30 minutes per session, with 18 sessions over 6 weeks. Continued treatment is then possible for 1-2 sessions per week.
Flow’s headset retails at 459 Euro or can be rented for 45 Euros per month.
Flow Neuroscience’s own patient 2020 data analysis has shown a 30% recovery rate after 6 weeks of treatment, while 85% of users have reported an improvement in mood.
Quote from Flow user Mike Parsons: “I experience depression as a very personal thing; very intimate, the taboo, the feeling of failure, the late nights wide awake, the anxiety, the fear of making it worse. I managed to grow more resilient and find different ways of coping – a mix of the correct medication helps, talk therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness and exercise were helpful to me. Having tried Flow I found that it encourages a conversation, the last thing you want when depressed. You have to engage with the app via a guided conversation and that gets you used to talking. Talking helps and makes depression about something other than yourself. You are also part of a growing network of users, the Facebook group has lots of voices all of whom have similar issues to you.
Find more user testimonials here.
Watch Flow on the BBC here.
The app - behavioural therapy for depression
The headset is combined with the Flow app, which provides behavioural therapy treatment virtually through courses and a chatbot therapist. Over six weeks, patients are guided through a programme covering sleep, diet, exercise, mindfulness as well as CBT techniques such as the ABC model and handling negative thought spirals. The app, authored by in-house clinical psychologists at Flow, draws on over 100 years of validated research on the antidepressant effects of incorporating these habits and lifestyle routines into daily life.
Hanna Silva, Clinical Psychologist and Treatment manager at Flow Neuroscience explains “To create a holistic solution that truly combats both the biological and behavioural, we wanted to bring a complementary virtual therapy solution that delivers techniques which positively impact on reducing depression, without the need for medication. The key is ensuring we tackle the biological components of depression whilst creating positive lifestyle habits that will support people recovering from depression across their lifetime. That is why the two-pronged approach of Flow is unique and offers a great solution for clinicians and patients alike to have more empowerment when treating and managing depression.”