"Mental illness is very physical."
Milena Cukic has been working as an engineer in medical research for 20 years. She is participating in the HealthInc program with her startup 3EGA.
“We help therapists make evidence-based decisions in medication management for patients dealing with recurrent depression,” she says, “by analyzing EEG signals recorded in depressed patients (finding nonlinear biomarkers of depressed people EEG) and comparing these to those of healthy people, we can find out whether patients are in the process of getting better or not. This analysis will help the therapist to decide how to manage medication for the individual patient.”
One in five
“Depression is becoming an epidemic. WHO calculated that one in five people will become depressed at some point in their lives. I had to deal with it myself. If you break a leg, people understand why you can’t walk. If you can’t get up in the morning because you are depressed, they say you’re lazy. While something isn’t functioning correctly in the brain. Mental illness is very physical.”
Helping to make decisions
“My main goal is for therapists to use the methodology that we already developed as an additional tool that support/suggest what should be the next step with the patient. We provide the extra information (this is a kind of quantification like any other medical test used in diagnostics), they decide. EEG measurement is very simple, very low-cost and easy to apply. People are excited when they see how clear it can be. My main point is to open other people’s eyes about something that is within their grasp, but which they are not using because they don’t know they can use it that way.”
“I’m completely aware that as a scientist, I speak quite a different language from someone working in business. For me, HealthInc can teach me how to ‘speak’ that language that people in business are used to. I know how to talk to therapists, other researchers and my students and colleagues. What I’m learning now is to explain to people who work with startups what the benefit is of this methodology. I think that if therapists would use it, it would help the therapist and patient to save time, and even prevent outcomes that could be really bad.”
“I want people who are depressed to live a better life. I believe the majority of therapists really cares about their patient – they have an inner drive for the patient to get better. If you are feeling depressed, reach out, ask for help. Do not rely on internet advice only.”