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‘Flow’ headsets to be offered to patients with depression

Flow wearable head set

An innovative, technological approach to treating depression is being offered to more patients in Northamptonshire, avoiding the side effects associated with anti-depressant drugs.

In a first for the NHS, Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s Perinatal Mental Health Service and Maternal Loss Psychology Service is now offering wearable ‘Flow’ headsets to its patients with a diagnosis of depression.

‘Flow’ headsets work by using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to stimulate the brain and help restore activity to relieve depressive symptoms, with a mobile phone app artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot delivered healthy lifestyle and wellbeing training.

Using the Flow App on their phones, patients use ‘Flow’ themselves at home for 30 minutes, five times per week for three weeks, then three sessions per week for three weeks, they can then stop using or continue to use for as long as required.

The Trust’s community mental health teams (CMHT) have been offering the treatment to patients as part of an innovative project, and patient feedback has now been received from NHFT’s Perinatal Mental Health Service and Maternal Loss Psychology Service.

Patients who have used ‘Flow’ said they experienced a ‘tingling’ sensation and improvements in depression symptoms in around three weeks of use.

Some of the patient feedback included:

  • “I was walking around in a fog and I'm not now.”
  • “My depression is a lot better now. I've actually spoken to my psychiatrist about reducing my anti-depressant medication, which is great.”
  • “I feel like it’s easier to get out of bed in the morning. There’s not the negative intrusive thoughts anymore, so I feel that’s a drastic improvement.”
  • “I just felt a lot less down, more positive and more optimistic in general”.

People found it had a positive impact on their sleep quality, motivation, and engagment in physical activity, as well as improving their ability to interact better with their children.

Many patients have decided to keep using ‘Flow’ going forward. Not everyone found Flow helpful and other support/treatment options are made available.

The Flow headset is being offered to patients from the Trust’s Perinatal Mental Health Service and Maternal Loss Psychology Service as part of a post-marketing project and by clinician referral only.

Innovation is a key element of NHFT’s Trust strategy, DIGBQ, as it continues to provide outstanding, compassionate care for service users.

 

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