Deep brain stimulation depression treatment reaches UK clinics

Chloe Kent 1 November 2019 (Last Updated November 1st, 2019 12:05)

Mental health clinics in London’s Harley Street medical district have partnered with Flow Neuroscience to offer patients the company’s deep brain stimulation treatment for depression.

Deep brain stimulation depression treatment reaches UK clinics
The headset is the first and only depression treatment of its kind to be approved in the UK and the EU. Credit: Flow

Mental health clinics in London’s Harley Street medical district have partnered with Flow Neuroscience to offer patients the company’s deep brain stimulation treatment for depression.

Facilities including the Chelsea Psychology Clinic will now offer patients Flow’s headset as an add-on treatment in combination with traditional talking therapies and psychiatric services.

The Flow headset directs transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) into the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with cognitive skills and emotional expression where depressed patients often have reduced neural activity. The tDCS is intended to activate neurons in this area and rebalance the brain’s activity. Randomised controlled trials published in the New England Journal of Medicine and the British Journal of Psychiatry have shown that this type of tDCS had a similar impact to antidepressants but with fewer and less severe side effects in general.

tDCS has been associated with skin irritation at the site of the headset, and some patients undergoing tDCS have experienced tinnitus and nervousness. Two patients undergoing tDCS in one trial also experienced a period of mania.

Chelsea Psychology Clinic clinical director Dr Elena Touroni said: “We pride ourselves on treating mental health conditions in an integrated, therapeutic approach. With Flow’s brain stimulation headset our highly respected experts now have a new tool to treat depression and help patients overcome their mental health challenges.”

The headset is the first and only depression treatment of its kind to be approved in the UK and the EU. As well as now being deployed in select clinics, the device can be directly purchased by patients for £399.

Flow Neuroscience CEO Daniel Mansson said: “Integrating the Flow brain stimulation headset with the standard practice of treating mental health is of great benefit to the patient but also to the clinician who can now provide an effective and accessible option for the treatment of depression. We’re starting talks with the NHS to have our headset available on prescription.”