Depression and Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)

Although depression is treated with medication, it can continue at regular intervals, unless it is resolved by psychotherapy, and become chronic and major depression. Therefore, psychotherapy is the most important treatment tool in the treatment of depression. We will discuss the relationship between interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) and depression treatment in detail.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy , as the name implies, is a short-term psychotherapy based on John Bowlby’s attachment theory, focusing on interpersonal problems, reducing depressive symptoms. IPT has been shown to be effective as a result of scientific research, and unlike many other therapies, it has been developed only for depression. This therapy method is based on the assumption that interpersonal relationship problems and depression are related. It has been reported that IPT is a long-term preventive strategy as an acute (12-16 weeks) treatment of depression for patients with recurrent depression (Klerman, 1974, Frank 1990). In another study with depressive adolescents, the effectiveness of IPT and clinical follow-up was compared and it was found that IPT was more effective in terms of depressive symptoms, functionality and social adjustment (Mufson 1999).

What is Interpersonal Psychotherapy?

  Interpersonal Relationships Psychotherapy aims to help the individual to recognize and correct problems in interpersonal relationships. So they can change their expectations about these relationships and to develop social support systems to facilitate coping with stress.

IPT emphasizes two things it attaches importance to in psychotherapy. The first is interpersonal relations. The aim here is to help individuals to improve their communication or to have more realistic expectations about their relationships in the relationship they have problems.

The second focus of IPT is social support. The aim of this focal point is to help individuals to cope with the disease and to build a wide range of social support networks or to make better use of their support network in order to better establish the necessary interpersonal support.

In the first stage of IPT, evaluation of the symptoms of depression, associating the symptoms with the problems in the relations, and choosing the focus of the treatment are realized.

The second stage focuses on one of the areas of complicated mourning, changes in social roles, role conflict in interpersonal relationships and inadequacies in interpersonal relationships.
In the last stage, the benefits of the treatment are reviewed and the patient’s strengths are supported.

The four problem areas addressed in IPT are (Klerman 1974, Klerman 1984):

Interpersonal role conflicts
Role changes
Lack of interpersonal relations

In IPT, there are specific techniques for each of the problem. The techniques are (Hirschfeld and Shea 1989):

IPT Psychotherapy techniques

a. Explanatory techniques: Gathering and giving information about the patient’s symptoms and problems

b. Emotion Encouragement: Explaining and recognizing the painful emotion; help her use her emotions positively in interpersonal relationships, encouraging her to express her repressed emotions

c. Clarification: Restructuring and feedback on patient relationships

D. Communication investigation: Maladaptive communication patterns. Helping the patient communicate better

E. Use of therapeutic relationship: Examining feelings and behaviors in therapeutic relationship also showing examples of other relationships.

f. Behavior change techniques: Explanations, showing new ways, educating the patient.

Source: Frank E, Kupfer DJ, Perel JM, Cornes C, Jarrett DB, Mallinger AG et al. (1990) Three-year outcomes for maintenance therapies inrecurrent depression. Arch Gen Psychiatry
Hirschfeld RMA, Shea MT (1989) Mood disorders: psychosocial treatments. In Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry.

Klerman GL, Dimascio A, Weissman M, Prusoff B, Paykel ES (1974) Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy: treatment of depression by drugs and psychotherapy. Am J Psychiatry,

About the Author
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Marilyn Walker
Marilyn Walker
I am studying in Florida about Dialectic Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I'm doing research on Neuro-Emotional Technique (NET), Cognitive psychology, Metacognitive Therapy.
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