Flow depression treatment headset/app addresses UK ‘lockdown loneliness’ of as high as 27% (UK/EU)

A depression treatment headset and app called Flow is being marketed in the UK and Europe by a Malmö-based company to help treat depression through brain stimulation. The user applies the headset to the forehead area and operates it through the smartphone app. The brain stimulation uses transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) to restore brain activity in the frontal lobe to decrease depressive symptoms in as little as three weeks. tDCS has been found in randomized controlled trials to have a similar effect to anti-depressant drugs, but without the side effects. The treatment and company were formed by Daniel Mansson, a clinical psychologist, and neuroscientist Erik Rehn. The system is available for purchase for €45/monthly or outright purchase for €459. (Not available in the US)

‘Lockdown loneliness’ is a renewed concern as the pandemic won’t go away and we are both being advised to restrict our movements, physically distance, normal gathering places are closed or restricted, and in many areas, we are being asked to isolate again from family, friends, and co-workers. A study published in PLOS One from a 1,900+ sample of UK adults 18-87 years of age in March-April indicated the prevalence of self-reported loneliness was very high–27 percent. 49 to 70 percent of respondents reported feeling isolated Reported risk was higher in the younger age group, among those who are separated or divorced, or already meeting clinical criteria for depression or emotion regulation difficulty. Loneliness was measured using the Three-Item Loneliness Scale. With holidays coming up soon, this initial report does not bode well for the rest of the year. 

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