According to WHO, over 50 million people suffer from depression in India alone. Those numbers still appear much underestimated given how a large number of depression cases remain undiagnosed and therefore untreated. A lot of people suffering from depression choose not to seek help, and that deteriorates their condition.
But now technology has an answer. A South Korean startup called YBrain is working on a headband that could help cure depression. Yes, you’ll be able to cure depression by yourself with that headband.
Ybrain is working on a headband that uses tDCS (transcranial direct current stimulation) that can be used to treat depression. It will also be the first ever product to bring tDCS to the mainstream. tDCS has been a topic of bigger discussions in the field of neuroscience.
The South Korean startup is currently rolling out its headband in over 70 Korean hospitals. It aims to reach a few thousand depression patients currently undergoing treatment. Data from this would be used for the company’s pitches in Europe and US since the approval processes are much harder there.
Ybrain’s headband may not be the first product developed to treat depression yet. A New York-based company Soterix Medical is using a different form of tDCS methodology to treat patients with depression and has already received approval for clinical usage in Europe. However, Ybrain’s headband is aimed at patients looking to discreetly find a cure for depression right inside their homes.
The system uses cheap, portable and simple to use parts with electrodes placed at different locations throughout the headband. The headband can pass currents of up to a few milliamps through a very specific area of the brain, powered by a small battery. So far the research has pointed to positive response amongst patients who were treated with similar technologies.
In a 2013 study, a neuroscientist and psychiatrist named Andre Brunoni was able to establish the correlation between such headbands and antidepressant medications in terms of their affects on patients. He also found out that patients who received a combination of such treatments were able to climb out of depression rather quickly.
Ybrain’s headband has been designed in such a manner as to keep it highly user-friendly and to maximise user adoption. The device has been designed to be used inside the house, once it has been prescribed and approved by a patient’s doctor.
The Ybrain headband features a power button, and nothing else. The patient simply needs to turn it on based on the doctor’s prescribed duration. The system also comes with a smartphone based app that the user can use to record their moods after using the headband. The data can be read by their doctor to make an assessment later on if the headband is working or not.
Currently Ybrain’s product is being used in a research carried out at Harvard Medical School. Around 500 patients are currently a part of this ongoing research. The company will be able to use the data from this research as well as its existing data set from patients’ usage in Korea to make a strong case for itself amongst its prospective patients.