Aug 24, 2020

A headset and chatbot app is helping to reduce depression

mental health app
chatbot therapist
Leila Hawkins
2 min
A headset and chatbot app is helping to reduce depression
Flow is a new drug-free treatment for depression...

A new type of treatment for depression that doesn't involve conventional medication is having great results amongst patients. Flow is entirely-drug free, and works by stimulating the area of the brain associated with depression via a headset. 

Images taken of the brain of depressed patients show that depression is associated with lowered activity in the front of the brain, called the DLPFC. When activity here is unbalanced, it can lead to appetite changes, sleep disturbance and low mood, all common symptoms of depression. 

The Flow headset administers a type of current called transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) to this area, restoring brain activity and reducing these symptoms. It can be worn at home, at any time that's convenient. 

Additionally while wearing the headset patients interact with the Flow app, which has a chatbot therapist providing personalised behavioural therapy in areas proven to reduce symptoms of depression, including nutrition, exercise and sleep. 

Trials have revealed that 81 per cent of patients feel better after using Flow for three weeks. Additionally 32 per cent found their anxiety reduced, and 29 per cent said they had a reduction in suicidal thoughts. The results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine and the British Journal of Psychiatry have shown tDCS to have a similar impact to antidepressants, but with fewer and less-severe side effects.

Daniel Mansson, clinical psychologist and co-founder of Flow, explained: “COVID is changing how depression is managed, and driving a meaningful increase in demand for effective, at-home treatments that are safe, have minimal side effects and do not require a prescription. 

“The results in this user analysis are comparable to antidepressants, and demonstrate the significant benefits of using Flow to self-manage depression. They add to the growing body of medical evidence that supports the use of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) for the treatment of depression - and gives further impetus for the NHS to add Flow as one of their first lines of treatment.”

Flow is the first treatment of this kind to be medically approved in the EU and the UK. It is currently offered at The Chelsea Psychology Clinic in London; the headset can also be bought online, while the app is free to download on App Store and Google Play. 

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Jul 21, 2021

Family doctors should give COVID vaccine, survey finds 

2 min
Family doctors should give COVID vaccine, survey finds 
Almost 70% of physicians believe patients would be less hesitant over vaccine if given by a trusted doctor

A new survey has found that doctors believe patients would be more open to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine if it was administered by a trusted doctor. 

The research by Sermo, a social media network for clinicians, was carried out among 3,329 physicians from around the world. It found that nearly 70% said that if they could administer the vaccine to reluctant patients themselves, they believe they would feel more comfortable about getting vaccinated. 

Additionally, nearly half of the people surveyed said that their ability to discuss the benefits of vaccination and answer patients' questions during appointments could help increase their willingness to get vaccinated.

The survey results are released as infection rates rise among people who have not received the vaccine. In the US Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called the latest surge "a pandemic of the unvaccinated".

Sermo’s COVID-19 Real Time Barometer also showed 65% of physicians believe that vaccinating children is essential for long-term control of the virus. Other findings include: 

* 55% of physicians say their patients are more reluctant to vaccinate their children than themselves due to fear of adverse effects 

* 60% believe a one-dose vial that administered at their office during appointments would be beneficial in continuing to administer vaccinations

* 81% believe that paediatricians and family doctors are in the best position to vaccinate children

Respondents also said resources and information should be created to educate their patient base and parents about the importance of getting vaccinated. 

“Our survey reveals that physicians worldwide feel strongly that they can and perhaps, should, play a very important role in driving COVID vaccination uptake,” said Peter Kirk, Sermo's CEO. 

“The trust they have built with their patients, combined with the ability to counsel, answer questions, ease concerns and provide assurances could help patients overcome their hesitancy to be vaccinated. Allowing physicians to vaccinate their own patients has the potential to increase vaccine rates.” 

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