On Tuesday, mental-health startup Freespira announced that it finalized a $10 million capital raise, which was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners.
Freespira, which was previously called Palo Alto Health Sciences, has created a digital treatment to reduce the symptoms of panic attacks, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This digital treatment is the first of its kind to be cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for these conditions.
Freespira’s technology uses a tablet device, a sensor and a custom app to help people suffering from panic disorders or PTSD reduce the severity of their panic attacks by regulating breathing and normalizing carbon dioxide levels. The company has published a handful of studies and whitepapers that detail the effectiveness of this kind of treatment. Those studies have shown that the company’s treatment has been able to reduce or eliminate PTSD or panic-related symptoms in 28 days.
This kind of tool is vital for people who haven’t been able to effectively treat their panic disorders or PTSD using other methods. While psychotherapy is often used in these scenarios, it doesn’t work for everyone. Professionals also prescribe medications like anti-depressants or benzodiazepines, but medications bring a risk of harmful side effects or addiction. Freespira’s treatment is medication-free.
Anxiety disorders are common in the United States, affecting about 40 million adults in the country every year. Panic disorder affects about six million adults, while PTSD affects about 7.7 million. While anxiety disorders are treatable, only 37 percent of people with them get treated. Although mental illness as a whole is under-diagnosed and under-treated in this country, new forms of therapeutics like Freespira are a step in the right direction to addressing a larger epidemic.
“We’re honored that Lightspeed, one of Silicon Valley’s premier venture firms, has joined our existing investors to help speed the commercialization of Freespira to benefit the millions of people who suffer from panic attacks and PTSD, including veterans, first responders, and, increasingly, frontline healthcare workers,” CEO Dean Sawyer said in a statement.
“Now that we have accumulated overwhelming evidence of the clinical and cost effectiveness of Freespira and achieved FDA clearance for its use treating both panic disorder and PTSD,” Sawyer continued, “we believe health plans and employers across the country will support the use of Freespira for their members and employees.”