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New treatment offers hope for people with depression


Depression is a mental condition with which many people in the Houston area can identify. Even if a person has never suffered depression themselves, chances are good that they have a friend or relative who has struggled with it at some point. According to data from a 2012 study from the International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, nearly 17 percent of Americans will experience major depression.

When a person suffers from major depression, it can affect every aspect of their life, including their ability to hold down a regular job. Thus, prolonged bouts of serious depression can mean that a person is unable to support themselves and their family. Accordingly, depression can be a qualifying mental condition for a mental disability claim with the Social Security Administration.

Because depression is a problem for so many people, researchers are always looking for better ways to treat it. A recent example is a treatment known as neurofeedback. Medication and therapy does not work for all patients who suffer from depression, but neurofeedback may offer hope where even the traditional treatments have failed.

Neurofeedback is supposed to help people with depression by targeting emotional and cognitive processes that lead to depression. The treatment uses brain scans to show patients how their brain functions when the person sees certain pictures or thinks about memories. As their brain activity changes, the doctors instruct the patient to either suppress or enhance the activity.

Through neurofeedback, researchers hope to teach people who suffer from depression and other psychological problems to train their brains to stay mentally healthy, just as they would train their muscles to stay physically fit.

Innovative approaches, like neurofeedback, offer hope and may help to treat people who have mental illnesses and conditions like depression. In the meantime, people in this situation who need economic help should understand their legal options for filing for disability benefits.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Brain Training for Anxiety, Depression and Other Mental Conditions," Andrea Petersen, Jan. 18, 2016

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