Though depression is a complex disorder with psychological, societal, and physiological influences, there are several promising technological developments that could help those experiencing acute depression
In light of Robin Williams’ tragic death from suicide, after having suffered from severe depression for years, we’re all searching for ways to treat depression better and help prevent such deaths in the future. Though depression is a complex disorder with psychological, societal, and physiological influences, there are several promising technological developments that could help those experiencing acute depression.
Israeli innovation on the way
Israeli startup Brainsway has created a depression-treating helmet that uses transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to treat patients suffering from major depression. It’s both less invasive than surgical procedures like deep brain stimulation, another high-tech method to treat severe depression, and safer and more effective than “shock therapy,” or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). It is used only on patients who have exhausted traditional methods of treatment, such as therapy, anti-depressants, and other mood correcting drugs.
Like many medical technology startups, its road to success has been long: Uzi Sofer founded the company in 2003 and in 2007, Brainsway became a public company on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Since its approval from the FDA and release in the United States last year, it has sold more than 70 units globally, mostly in the U.S.
Ronen Segal, the company’s Chief Technology Officer, told Wall Street Daily that, “The result is remission and response rates that are higher than any treatment available today – and we can give new hope, and sometimes new life, for patients who are suffering from devastating conditions like clinical depression and other psychiatric conditions.”
The key to their success will lie in their long-term track record with patients and ability to keep the costs of their technology competitive. For the sake of all depression sufferers out there, we wish them the best of luck.
But what about those experiencing suicidal thoughts, particularly young people?
Suicide is one of the main causes of death among young people around the world: It’s the leading cause of death for men under 35 in the United Kingdom and the second leading cause of death for men under 34 in the U.S.
New Zealand startup Social Code has created a smartphone application called Code Blue to help teenagers experiencing depression get support right away. It’s a simple app that lets young people receive a “support crew” when they need it the most. This crew will give instant support via text, phone, or in person – whichever method the user prefers.
Social Code founder Siobhan Bulfin explains to Scoop that, “Depression is as much a sociological problem as it is clinical. It can be hard to ask for help, especially when you can’t describe what you’re feeling. We want Code Blue to make it easy. By simply pushing a button on your phone your support crew is alerted and ready to help you immediately, no explanations required.”
Though anyone can suffer from depression, even successful celebrities like Robin Williams, your life always matters to someone. Here is a list of suicide crisis lines around the world to anyone out there experiencing suicidal thoughts.