Depression is a common mental disorder and has been identified as a leading cause of disability. According to the World Health Organization, each year, 25% of the population suffers from depression or anxiety in Europe.
Mental disorders account for about 20% of the burden of disease in the European Region, rising to 26% in the countries in the European Union (EU). Most importantly, the cost of mood disorders and anxiety in the EU is about €170 billion per year.
Various organisations are taking great efforts in addressing mental health issues as effectively as it treats trauma or cardiac arrest. Saying that, a lot of startups has recognised the deep connection between mental and physical health. One among them is the Sweden-headquartered ’Flow.’
Secured €1.3M funding
For the unknown, Flow is a medical device and therapy app startup designed to treat depression. In a recent development, the company has secured $1.5 million (approx €1.34 million) in funding led by Khosla Ventures to tackle the world’s most urgent mental health challenges.
Founded in 2016 by Daniel Mansson and Erik Rehn based in Malmo, Flow is a physical and behavioural, at-home treatment for depression which comprises a portable brain stimulation headset and therapy app. The company intends to use the latest funding to support Flow’s European rollout, introduce Flow to healthcare clinics, and fund clinical studies.
How does it work?
People diagnosed with depression often have lower neural activity in their left frontal lobe, the part of the brain controlling important cognitive skills, including emotional expression.
The Flow headset uses a brain stimulation technique called tDCS (transcranial Direct Current Stimulation). In simple terms, the headset offers a gentle electrical signal to stimulate the left frontal cortex and rebalance neural activity in this part of the brain.
During this process, the user interacts with a virtual therapy app that provides information and advice on lifestyle changes.
Stats in the UK!
Last month, the Swedish medical device company announced the launch of its brain stimulation headset and therapy app to treat depression in the UK as well. Meanwhile, in the UK, nearly one in four adults are affected by mental illness. Suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 years in England and Wales. The economic costs of mental illness in England is estimated at £105.2 billion annually!
Expanding to the US!
The company has already started talks with the NHS to have its brain stimulation headset available on prescription. In 2019, Flow will be working with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to seek regulatory clearance in the US as well.
Daniel Mansson, Clinical Psychologist and Co-Founder of Flow, said:
We’re increasing treatment choice and empowering people to self-manage their symptoms at home with an effective, personalised and non-pharmacological alternative. This has the potential to improve the standard of care and reduce global healthcare costs. The Khosla Ventures investment will support the next stage of our journey as we cement our position as European leaders of brain stimulation treatment for depression.
The Flow headset retails at £399 (€444), and the virtual therapy app is available on iOS for free.
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