Medical Proof: Depression can impair cognitive function

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In a February 20, 2010, press release, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center announced that their review of published, peer reviewed literature, documents that depression may lead to cognitive impairment. Their research reviewed 35 studies that were published between 1991 and 2007 that investigated links between depression severity in patients and specific impairments in their cognition. The areas of cognition included processing speed, attention, memory, language abilities and executive functioning. While they found significant variability between the studies that were conducted, their research revealed that processing speed–the ability to quickly take in information, process, and act upon it– was found to be the cognitive function most often affected by depression.

The outcome of this study has meaning for disability claimants because it further supports how depressed patients with a processing speed deficit can indeed experience functional impairment related to their ability to work. Such claims should undergo a careful analysis of how both conditions, taken together and individually, affect the claimant’s specific work duties.

The complete press release is available online at http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/utsw/cda/dept353744/files/575962.html

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