A Swedish tech startup called Flow Neuroscience has developed a headset device that is designed to treat depression without the need for medication. Dubbed the Flow, the gadget uses small electrical jolts of electricity aimed at altering activity to the part of the brain that is responsible for emotion.
The technique is known as Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS), and paired with the company’s AI-powered app, the device is said to reduce the effects of acute depression over an initial period of six weeks, with a follow-up phase after that.
The Flow recently received medical approval for sale in Europe and the developers claim they are currently waiting on U.S. approval as well.
The app also adds a healthier living angle as it offers guidance and various tasks centered on how best to sleep, exercise, diet and meditate to help control and combat depression.
“Depression is associated with lowered activity in an area in the front of the brain. The Flow headset delivers gentle electrical signals to this area and rebalances the activity. As a result, your symptoms decrease,” a company spokesperson explained.
Among the major benefits of the Flow, according to developers, is the absence of harmful side effects, as many anti-depressant medications can cause some fairly severe side effects. The company further explains the mild electrical shocks encourage the brain’s neural connections to become less rigid, helping these connections mimic those found in healthy brains.
The company adds that Flow is suitable for users over 18 years of age who have been diagnosed with depression.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression affects more than 300 million people globally and is the leading cause of disability worldwide. This figure represents an 18 percent increase since 2005. WHO research adds that there is no single cause of depression, as it can be the result of brain chemistry, hormones, and genetics, as well as life experiences and physical health.
The Flow is currently available on the Flow Neuroscience website for $499.