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People in the UK can now buy a headset to combat depression
Via Twitter @flowneurosci

People in the UK can now buy a headset to combat depression

Used in conjunction with a virtual therapist app, the stimulation device manipulates your brain activity with small jolts of electricity

There’s a lot of reasons people in the UK might be depressed: our current political turmoil; the impending climate crisis; the fact that we may have to travel 200 miles for mental health treatment – the list goes on. Now, a use-at-home headset has been launched to help sufferers treat their depression.

The device, created by Flow Neuroscience, is Europe’s first brain stimulation technology which uses small jolts of electricity to manipulate activity at the front of the brain. People with depression typically have lower activity in the left side of their prefrontal cortex – involved in personality, decision-making, and regulating emotions – and higher activity on the right, so the headset can be used to rebalance it.

Used in conjunction with a virtual therapy app – which encourages users to eat and sleep better, as well as meditate and exercise more – the headset should be worn for 30 minutes, 18 times over six weeks. 

The device uses transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to change the electrical potential of neurons – making them more, or less, likely to fire – which has been proven to have similar effects as antidepressants in reducing symptoms, but with less negative side effects.

Many clinics in London’s Harley Street medical district are now offering the headset as an add-on to traditional therapy services. Psychologist and Flow’s CEO, Daniel Mansson, said in a press release: “Integrating the Flow brain stimulation headset with the standard practice of treating mental health is of great benefit to the patient, but also to the clinician who can now provide an effective and accessible option for the treatment of depression.” Mansson also added that the company is “starting talks with the NHS” to make the device available on prescription. 

This isn’t the first time a headset has been proposed as a potential treatment for mental health issues. In April, new research suggested that virtual reality technology could help alleviate the symptoms of social anxiety.

Although the idea of treating depression at home might be welcomed by many, the £399 price tag likely won’t be. With a broken mental health system, and more people turning to counselling apps, it’s obvious more needs to be done to help those in need, though there might still be a long way to go before it’s available at an affordable price.