Clinical Research: Brain Stimulation
The Flow brain stimulation treatment is based on decades of clinical research with the most recent meta-analyses showing that tDCS has similar efficacy to other treatments but with fewer side effects
Across 20+ randomized controlled trials tDCS has been shown to be superior to placebo/sham and no serious adverse events have been observed. Hence, tDCS provides an alternative to medication that is effective, safe and accessible.
Clinical Research: Behaviour Therapy
The Flow therapy app is based on a hundred years of psychological research, showing that exercise, sleep, diet and meditating all have an impact on reducing depressive symptoms when incorporated into a regular routine.
Research shows that regular exercise is as effective as antidepressant medication. It increases positive mood and stimulates growth of new brain cells.
The latest research gives you the recipe for an antidepressant diet. Changing your eating habits can prevent the development of depression and reduce depressive symptoms.
Murri et al., 2019: Physical Exercise in Major Depression: Reducing the Mortality Gap While Improving Clinical Outcomes.
Hallgren et al., 2020: Associations of exercise frequency and cardiorespiratory fitness with symptoms of depression and anxiety – a cross-sectional study of 36,595 adults.
Morres et al., 2018: Aerobic exercise for adult patients with major depressive disorder in mental health services: A systematic review and meta‐analysis.
Lederman et al., 2019: Does exercise improve sleep quality in individuals with mental illness? A systematic review and meta-analysis.
Basso & Suzuki, 2017: The Effects of Acute Exercise on Mood, Cognition, Neurophysiology, and Neurochemical Pathways: A Review.
Schuch et al., 2016: Exercise as a treatment for depression: A meta-analysis adjusting for publication bias
Basso et al., 2018: Brief, daily meditation enhances attention, memory, mood, and emotional regulation in non-experienced meditators.
Li et al., 2020: Effects of mindfulness meditation on anxiety, depression, stress, and mindfulness in nursing students: a meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis of randomized controlled trials.
Reangsing et al., 2020: Effects of mindfulness meditation interventions on depression in older adults: A meta-analysis.
Carpena et al., 2019: The effect of a six-week focused meditation training on depression and anxiety symptoms in Brazilian university students with 6 and 12 months of follow-up.
Fish & Saul, 2019: The Gamification of Meditation: A Randomized-Controlled Study of a Prescribed Mobile Mindfulness Meditation Application in Reducing College Students’ Depression.
Kuyken et al., 2016: Efficacy of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy in Prevention of Depressive Relapse
Do-Hyung Kang et al., 2013: The effect of meditation on brain structure: cortical thickness mapping and diffusion tensor imaging
Farb et al., 2010: Minding one’s emotions: Mindfulness training alters the neural expression of sadness
Bastiaanssen et al., 2020: Gutted! Unraveling the Role of the Microbiome in Major Depressive Disorder
Lassale et al., 2019: Healthy dietary indices and risk of depressive outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies
Dinan et al., 2018: Feeding melancholic microbes: MyNewGut recommendations on diet and mood.
Godos et al., 2019: Adherence to the Mediterranean Diet is Associated with Better Sleep Quality in Italian Adults
Jacka et al., 2017: A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial)
Vermeulen et al., 2017: A combined high-sugar and high-saturated-fat dietary pattern is associated with more depressive symptoms in a multi-ethnic population: the HELIUS (Healthy Life in an Urban Setting) study
Riemann et al., 2020: Sleep, insomnia and depression
Üzer & Yücens, 2020: The effect of circadian preferences on insomnia severity and depressive symptoms via sleep hygiene in older adults with depression and healthy controls.
Lane et al., 2019: Biological and clinical insights from genetics of insomnia symptoms.
Tolêdo et al., 2020: Sleep disturbance and depression in adolescence: an integrative review of literature
van der Helm & Walker, 2009: Overnight Therapy? The Role of Sleep in Emotional Brain Processing.
Nishida et al., 2009: REM Sleep, Prefrontal Theta, and the Consolidation of Human Emotional Memory.
Tsuno et al., 2005: Sleep and Depression.
tDCS and depression
tDCS has shown across years of research to be effective in reducing depressive symptoms. With world-leading tDCS researcher Andre Brunoni highlighting that tDCS works best through 30-minute sessions, 2-5 times per week. In terms of adverse experiences, recent meta-analyses indicate that this type of treatment has low risk, with over 33200 stimulation sessions showing no serious effects.
Flow and depression
Clinical Research Pillars
As part of our commitment to the field of brain stimulation and mental health, we are focused on creating accessible solutions globally that have an impact.
The science behind Flow
Flow and the brain
- Depression is associated with lowered activity in a brain area called the DLPFC (Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex). It’s located in the frontal lobe.
- The Flow headset delivers gentle electrical signals to the DLPFC to help activate the brain cells. As a result, depressive symptoms decrease or disappear.
- The technology used in the Flow headset is called transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS).
- World-leading tDCS researcher and assoc. Professor of Psychiatry, Andre Brunoni, has found that tDCS works best through 30-minute sessions, 2-5 times per week.
Studies on tDCS and depression
The technique used in the Flow headset is solely based on results from RCT* studies, conducted without funding from Flow Neuroscience. One such study included 245 participants with depression. It was conducted in 2017 and showed that 41% of depressed people noticed that at least half of their symptoms disappeared within 6 weeks of using brain stimulation. Only 22% of people in the placebo group experienced similar results.
To learn more about the history of tDCS and how it compares to other brain stimulation techniques, click here.
*An RCT (Randomised Controlled Trial) study is a type of research method used to make sure that results are as reliable as possible
Brunoni, A. R., Moffa, A. H., Sampaio-Junior, B., Borrione, L., Moreno, M. L., Fernandes, R. A., Benseñor, I. M. (2017). Trial of Electrical Direct-Current Therapy versus Antidepressant for Depression. New England Journal of Medicine (26), 2523–2533. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa1612999
Brunoni, A. R., Moffa, A. H., Fregni, F., Palm, U., Padberg, F., Blumberger, D. M., … Loo, C. K. (2016). Transcranial direct current stimulation for acute major depressive episodes: meta-analysis of individual patient data. The British Journal of Psychiatry : The Journal of Mental Science, 208(6), 522–531. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.bp.115.164715
Mutz et al (2019). Comparative efficacy and acceptability of non-surgical brain stimulation for the acute treatment of major depressive episodes in adults: systematic review and network meta-analysis: BMJ 2019; 364 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l1079
Studies on tDCS and safety
Among many others, a meta-analysis* conducted in 2016 showed that the technique used in the Flow headset is safe and has never been associated with brain damage. The analysis included 1000 research participants and over 33,200 stimulation sessions!
*A meta-analysis is a research method that combines results from multiple studies. This means that the results from a meta-analysis are particularly reliable.
Bikson et al., Safety of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation: Evidence Based Update 2016. Brain Stimulation, 9(2016), 641–661. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brs.2016.06.004
Aparício et al., A Systematic Review on the Acceptability and Tolerability of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Treatment in Neuropsychiatry Trials. Brain Stimulation, 9(5), 671–681. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brs.2016.05.004
Nikolin et al., Safety of repeated sessions of transcranial direct current stimulation: A systematic review. Brain Stimulation 11 (2018) 278-288. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brs.2017.10.020
The therapy app
To maximize your chances of recovering from depression, the brain stimulation is combined with behaviour therapy delivered through the app Flow – Depression. The therapy focuses on lifestyle changes that significantly reduce symptoms of depression. Naturally, the facts and techniques presented in the treatment programme are based on RCT (Randomised Controlled Trial) studies and developed by clinical psychologists.