Depression and Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)

Relationship Between Depression and IPT

Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is short, attachment-focused psychotherapy that works on addressing interpersonal issues and symptomatic rehabilitation. Originally called ‘high-contact’ therapy, IPT was first developed at Yale University in 1969 as part of a research planned by Gerald Klerman, Myrna Weissman and colleagues to assess the usefulness of an antidepressant as a maintenance medication for depression with and without psychotherapy. Since its growth, IPT has been explored in several research protocols. The effectiveness of IPT as a maintenance therapy was seen by NIMH-TDCRP and some contributing factors were delineated. We will discuss the relationship between interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) and depression treatment in detail. Also, We will give a little more details about Interpersonal Psychotherapy and its techniques.

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.

IPT

As the name implies, interpersonal psychotherapy is 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 were 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 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 improve their communication or have more realistic expectations about their relationships in the relationship they have problems.

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

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

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

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

Sorrow
Interpersonal role conflicts
Role changes
Lack of interpersonal relations

In IPT, there are specific techniques for each of the problems. 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 a 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,

Last Updated on December 9, 2020 by Lucas Berg

Marilyn Walker
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