As COVID-19 continues to impact mental health and access to treatment in the UK, medical device company Flow is reporting a 247% increase in sales of its at-home, brain stimulation headset treatment for depression with 30% of its users overcoming depression during the pandemic.
‘Huge social and economic uncertainty associated with COVID-19 may have a profound and long-lasting effect on mental health,’ says clinical psychologist and Flow co-founder, Daniel Mansson. ‘As healthcare systems strain to support an increase in mental health conditions during the pandemic – and with fewer people going to their GP for help with their mental health – access to effective, at-home treatment for depression has never been more important,’ Mansson added.
Patients manage their depression at home by wearing the Flow headset which activates parts of the brain under-stimulated by the condition. At the same time, users interact with the Flow behavioural therapy app which improves areas known to impact depression, including sleep and nutrition.
Flow is the first at-home depression treatment of its type to be medically approved in the UK and EU. The type of brain stimulation used in the Flow headset (tDCS) has been shown in clinical randomised controlled trials, including New England Journal of Medicine and the British Journal of Psychiatry, to have a similar impact to antidepressants, but with fewer and less-severe side effects.
During the pandemic, Flow has helped to treat and manage depression in various ways with 30% of its users reporting that they overcame depression.
Comparing 2020 figures with the previous year, users reported feeling 30% more resilient and 30% less pessimistic during the pandemic. Flow users felt mentally stronger during a year that many, with or without mental health issues, have found challenging.
In 2020, 30% of its users felt more focused, which helped them to make positive routines manageable in a very difficult year. And Flow users reported feeling 35% more zest for life and emotional involvement in their surroundings. This is significant as users felt more engaged, interested and connected to themselves, their family and their life during the lockdown.
‘During the pandemic, our clear treatment pathway empowers those most vulnerable to depression to self-manage their condition with an effective, drug-free treatment from the comfort of their home,’ says Mansson.
To normalise conversations around mental health and enhance feelings of solidarity during the pandemic, Flow is empowering its users to share their stories about how mental health has impacted their lives. Flow user Mike Parsons recently spoke with the BBC about living with depression for most of his life.