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Researchers exploring new methods of treating depression

While many people would like to think that they will never suffer from depression, statistics would seem to suggest this may not be so fortunate. Indeed, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America has found that as many as 14.8 million adults -- roughly 6.7 percent of the population -- will suffer a major depressive episode in a given year, and that depression is one of the leading causes of disability in the U.S. among those between the ages of 15 to 44.

As sobering as these numbers are, consider also that not everyone suffering from depression responds to traditional treatments like antidepressants and/or cognitive behavioral therapy.

The good news, however, is that researchers are currently hard at work developing alternate therapies to help treat depression and that, while still in need of further testing, are showing real promise. Take for example, something known as cognitive control training.

CCT treatment consists of two separate 15-minute mental exercises. In the first exercise, patients are instructed to add a series of numbers in accordance with a set of instructions, an activity that involves the use of the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex.

It's thought that this region of the brain, which performs both executive control and emotional regulation, is largely inactive among depressed people and contributes to the consistent negative feelings they experience. The addition exercise essentially serves to help break this loop of negativity by forcing this region of the brain to focus on something else.

In the second exercise, the patients listen to an audio recording of chirping birds in the aim of diverting their attention from negative thoughts to the external stimuli.

While CCT treatment is still very much in its infancy, it's worth noting that at least one study saw depression scores drop among a group that underwent three CCT sessions over two weeks as compared with a control group that only underwent an exercise focused on peripheral vision.

It's encouraging to see researchers continue to make these new discoveries concerning depression, which as we mentioned above, is among the leading causes of disability.

Indeed, if a diagnosis of depression has made it all but impossible to continue working as you once did, you should strongly consider speaking with a skilled legal professional to learn more about your options as they relate to disability benefits.

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