Electric headset for treating depression recommended as widespread treatment after NHS trial

A trial by Northamptonshire NHS Foundations Trust found that brain-stimulating headphones can combat symptoms of depression.

By Annie Butterworth, news editor

Sunday June 9, 2024 07:44, United Kingdom

Following a successful NHS trial, an electric headset to treat depression was recommended as a more widespread treatment for depression. But it is not yet known what the long-term benefits of the device are.

A National Health Service A trial has found that innovative electric headphones for treating depression are an effective way to reduce symptoms and has recommended their wider use in the healthcare sector.

Flow Neuroscience headphones were given to patients with depression by their GP to wear for 30 minutes daily over a period of six weeks, as a non-invasive way to manage the condition.

The study found it to be an “effective treatment for depression,” using a brain stimulation technique known as transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS.

The device sends a weak direct electrical current to the front of the brain to stimulate areas responsible for emotional expression.

The research found that more than 58% of people saw improvements within six weeks, and one in three went into remission without depression symptoms.

Flow Neuroscience says it is the “first and only medically approved home treatment for depression” and can be used in conjunction with other therapies such as talk therapies or medications.

Was tested on patients by Northamptonshire NHS Foundations Trust, but can also be purchased privately for £399.

One such patient is James Maynard, who battled depression before using headphones.

He told Sky News: “I was so depressed I didn’t really have any goals and was just going through the emotions of everyday life.

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“Go to work, come home after the kids, go to sleep. If I could sleep.”

After a few weeks of using the device every day for 30 minutes, he says his symptoms improved noticeably.

“I started sleeping a little better. The wife even said I was happier. I didn’t wake up in a bad mood. So obviously something was up.”

James Maynard, who has battled depression and uses headphones

One of the leaders of the NHS trial is Dr Azhar Zafar, who told Sky News that patients report having to use less medication as a result of the device.

He says: “It’s a new option because for years and years we will only have the option of medication or cognitive behavioral therapy. This treatment method is an additional treatment.”

However, it is not yet known what the long-term benefits of the device on depression are after six weeks.

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Dr Anita Raja, a GP, told Sky News that “when it comes to mental health “One of the most important things is to understand what the patient’s relapse may be once treatment is discontinued or discontinued.”

She says this device is promising, but wants to know “what happens when the patient stops using it? Does he become depressed again?”

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