This app reduces the risk of depression by changing eating habits

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A new therapy app called Flow – developed by Flow Neuroscience – claims to help users reduce the risk of depression by changing their eating habits to a Mediterranean diet.

According to the creators, it is Europe’s “first and only medically-approved, home brain stimulation treatment for depression”, and recommends foods that “reduce the risk of depression”.

In addition, the app also offers “psychological strategies to switch off the autopilot craving mechanism” to help users avoid foods which may trigger symptoms.

How does the Flow app work?

The project is based on “a randomised controlled trial which showed that over 32.3% of depressed patients had significantly reduced the risk of depression after 12 weeks just by changing their eating habits”.

Moreover, the app is free to download on iOS and Android devices. It also features interactive content, along with “daily chat conversations about the impact of nutrition on depression”.

flow neuroscience app

Diet can increase or reduce the risk of depression

The app recommends a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, fish, berries, unsalted nuts, legumes, seeds and olive oil. Foods to avoid include fried food, ready meals, soda, processed meat, stabilisers, sweeteners and thickeners

Studies have shown that a diet high in sugar, white flour and processed meats could, in fact, lead to chronic inflammation. That, in turn increases the risk of depression.

Furthermore, the Flow app can be used with the Flow Neuroscience “home brain stimulation headset”. Daniel Mansson, clinical psychologist and co-founder of Flow, explains:

“Clinical studies have demonstrated that by changing your eating habits it is possible to reduce the risk of depression. Eating lots of fruit and vegetables could present a natural, inexpensive and non-pharmaceutical means to support a healthy and happy brain. Our mission is to empower everyone to improve their depression and mental health based on well-grounded science”.

Brain stimulation

According to Flow creators, the British Journal of Psychiatry also showed that the type of brain stimulation used in the headset had “a similar impact to antidepressants; but with fewer and less-severe side effects”. Read more here, here and here.

Moreover, the headset is classified as a Class IIa medical device. Class IIa devices generally constitute low to medium risk; pertaining mainly to devices installed within the body in the short term.

Examples include hearing-aids, blood transfusion tubes, and catheters. Requirements include technical files and a conformity test carried out by a European Notified Body.

Flow was founded by clinical psychologist Daniel Mansson and neuroscientist Erik Rehn. It consists of prominent researchers in the field of psychiatry, clinical psychology, brain stimulation, neuroscience and machine learning.

The SA Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) can be reached on 011 234 4837 from 8:00 to 20:00 on Mondays to Sundays. The emergency line is 0800 567 567, and the 24-hr helpline: 0800 567 567 [www.sadag.org]. Alternatively, LifeLine can reached on 0861 322 322 (24hrs) [www.lifelinesa.co.za]. Additional resources and contact groups for various provinces can be found on www.suicide.org.

Also read – South Africa’s children aren’t getting the mental health care they need

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