IPT - Interpersonal Therapy for depression

The way we interact with the rest of the world plays a major role in shaping our lives. It is important to know how to maintain healthy relationships with your loved ones. Especially because these relationships can have significant effects on our mental health. Interpersonal therapy – IPT can help people improve the quality of their societal functions and to reduce the emotional stress caused by them.

What is Interpersonal Therapy?

IPT is a timed and focused treatment. It is specified for mood disorders. IPT’s major goal is to strengthen a client’s relationships and social functioning. This is in order to make them feel less distressed. IPT offers ways for resolving issues in four major areas.

IPT session begins by talking about interpersonal issues. These can include social isolation. At times they are engagements that are resulted from unsatisfying relationships. After that, therapists check if the distress is caused by grief. This situation mostly occurs due to the death of a loved one. IPT helps patients handle unresolved grief. IPT can also assist with tough life changes. This can be situations such as retirement, divorce, or relocating to a new place. Also, IPT helps with resolving interpersonal conflicts. They may be arising because of unmatched expectations among partners, family members, close friends, etc.

It is true that the sole cause of depression is not relationships. However, relationships can still be an issue.

So, IPT aims to make social interaction a little easier. This is by educating individuals on how to communicate better, react better, and thus avoid stress. It has found to be as effective as antidepressant medication.

What are the conditions that can be treated with Interpersonal Therapy?

IPT mainly focuses on depression. It is an effective therapy choice for those suffering from depression. This is based on the fact that persons with depressive symptoms have issues with their daily interactions. They tend to hide away from the world. Relationship problems are among the most common depressive symptoms. However, bad relationships are not the sole cause of mental stress. Strengthened relationships are a crucial support network throughout the healing process. A healthy circle can help a person live a healthy life. The effect of positive energy is really important to lift up their mood.

However, depression is not the only condition that can be benefited by IPT. It also works wonders on several other conditions.

Among these are eating disorders, drug, and alcohol abuse, and other mood disorders, including bipolar disorder, which have all been treated with IPT. IPT varies from other classic therapy techniques. It focuses on current relationships rather than past ones. It also acknowledges the internal tension, enough to help deal with it but does not emphasize it.

In general, IPT offer active, nonjudgmental treatment. It is important that those who help a mentally stressed person can sympathize. These help persons in therapy overcome obstacles. It aids their mental health. The treatment session will address many topics. Most of it will involve relationships with loved ones. It only targets dysfunctional beliefs and behaviours. Thus it will differ from cognitive and behavioural therapy. IPT focuses on changing relationship patterns. Not so much on depressive symptoms that accompany them, and address relationship issues that worsen these symptoms.

Below are a few other conditions that usually seek the help of IPT

  • Anxiety
  • Eating Disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Postpartum depression
  • Social phobia


IPT for Depression

IPT is a very effective short-term treatment method for depression. Overcoming depression is its first goal. It focuses on interpersonal concerns. IPT has been proven in studies to be at least as beneficial as medication treatment for mild to severe clinical depression. IPT has been helpful in the treatment of children’s depression. However, it was originally used to treat adult depression. IPT is frequently recommended as a treatment for depression in children.

Events that occur in the context of IPT do not lead to depression. However, depression occurs while interacting. It has an impact on the roles that people play in those relationships. For example, if your spouse and parents can’t agree on something, you are likely to be the middle man. You will have to choose. Obviously, your choice will not satisfy both sides. This will lead you into distress.

IPT for depression focuses on how symptoms are linked to a person’s connections, particularly family and peers. This is done by treating interpersonal issues.

The treatment’s initial aim is to reduce symptoms quickly and promote social interaction. The long-term goal is to reduce persons suffering from depression and help them to make the necessary changes on their own.

How does IPT work?

IPT is a type of short-term treatment. It comprises 12 to 16 one-hour weekly sessions. The therapist focuses on difficulties that can be seen in how a person interacts with others or does not do so. When those issues are addressed, the patient notices a difference in their symptoms. It is likely to improve their social life.

An interview with your therapist is usually the first step in treatment. They can detect difficulties in your personal relationships. That is based on the issues you describe. They will build a treatment plan which will help you reach your goals.

You and your therapist will concentrate on the most important topics you want to address. They may use various techniques such as role-playing, storytelling, in order to see the world from your perspective. This helps them relate to you and help you better.

IPT in comparison to other modern psychotherapies (such as CBT) does not focus on unconscious sources of current feelings and behaviours. Instead, IPT focuses on how symptoms are shown by more immediate challenges connecting with others.

Depression symptoms can take a severe toll on personal relationships. People who are depressed are more likely to exhibit displeasure at others as a result of this.

Feelings of depression can arise for a variety of causes. Major life changes can increase the chance of depression. Changes or “adjustments” of this nature come into one of four categories:


When a loved one passes away, depression can set in. Going through the five stages of grieving is natural. In this case, a big loss can also lead to unresolved grief. This is grieving that is delayed (lasts a long time after the loss), distorted, or grief in which you don’t feel emotions. Instead have symptoms like insomnia.

 Role transition

Changing circumstances can take a toll. Whether developmental, changes in job or social situations or a life event. or the end of a relationship, it differs. These changes are regarded as losses in depression and add to the despair.

Interpersonal conflicts

These conflicts might arise in the context of a marriage, a family, a social gathering, a school, or a workplace. Disagreements arise when people have different expectations. The problem that must be handled is the discomfort caused by the conflicts.

Interpersonal deficit

This refers to a patient’s “underdeveloped” personal ties. They can be either in terms of quantity or quality.

Your therapist will try to figure out what happened in your life to cause your depression. They will try to teach you the skills you will need to channel negative emotions into positive ones. They may provide you with skills to practice in order to better communicate with family members or romantic partners.


The IPT process

The early sessions of IPT are to diagnose depression. This includes the introduction to the IPT method. This is to find particular concerns or problems. You and the therapist would make a list of your concerns, rate them, and decide which issues look to be vital to address. The upcoming sessions will address those. This includes learning more about them, changes you can make, and the action plan. The therapist might employ a few tactics throughout this part of the therapy. These include the following:

  • Clarification
  • Listening
  • Roleplay
  • Storytelling
  • analyzing content

The encouragement allows you to experience unpleasant or unwanted feelings and emotions. These are associated with interpersonal issues. This unpleasant time will happen in a secure therapy setting. Accepting those feelings and emotions is part of what makes your growth easier.

The sessions will be focused on resolving the issues that have been identified. Some people find this difficult to adjust to. In most cases, particularly those who are used to more traditional approaches to therapy. It may take a few weeks for your focus to move to the IPT method.

The push to stop therapy is another part of the IPT process. The patient is aware from the start that therapy has a time limit. The sessions will focus on what happens after the IPT, during the last few sessions.

Stopping IPT is a loss that the patient will have to bear. As a result, the therapist will ask to analyze the effect of the loss on you. What difficulties does it raise? How can you use the adjustments you’ve learned to help you cope with the loss? The goal is for the patient to become more conscious of their abilities to deal with issues that have prevented them from actively managing their symptoms.

How can you benefit from IPT?

Depression can develop after a loved one passes away. While it is common to go through the five stages of grief in this situation, a loss can also result in unresolved grief. It will last a long time after the loss, or grief in which you don’t feel emotions. Instead have depressive symptoms like insomnia.

IPT can assist patients to understand better of how their connections affect their lives. The idea is to help people perform better socially while also reducing their depression.

IPT is based on the idea that depression occurs as a result of interpersonal connections. To put it another way, your relationships have the power to raise or lessen your depression. Feeling depressed can affect your relationships. As a result, the purpose of IPT is to improve how you connect with others. That is to reduce your depression symptoms.

IPT delivers effective results within a very short treatment period. It is a very short-term approach. Not to mention the sense of hope it gives to these individuals. Most of the time the people seeking IPT are very hopeless about life. This keeps them going. It also introduces a new set of ways on how to deal with set backing episodes.

Is Interpersonal Therapy for you?

IPT is one of many types of psychotherapy. There are several factors that determine IPT’s effectiveness. Those are the events you’ve gone through and the severity of your problems.

If you are suffering from depression, bipolar, social anxiety, or any of the above issues, IPT may be the best treatment method for you. Talk to your doctor or therapist further about this.

What should you consider before trying Interpersonal Therapy?

IPT does not try to address underlying difficulties that are the result of previous events. This is different from other types of depression treatment. Instead, IPT focuses on your present relationships. On how they may be causing your depression symptoms. Also on how you might improve your interactions to attain a better mental state.

It’s also worth noting that problems like depression and eating disorders may reoccur. Maintenance is required even after IPT. This helps prevent relapse. It also helps reinforce skills, and maintain improvement. This could include a monthly session to brush up on skills. It gives the necessary push to handle life changes. In other words, it’s a never-ending process. You have to keep working on yourself. You have to stay on track. Identify signs before it is too late. IPT only provides guidance. The hard work is in the patient’s hand.

What can be expected after the IPT?

Patients are urged to keep up IPT and to keep up with managing the taught practices. Depression is sometimes a recurrent disease. Some people may have many recurrences. Maintenance is done once a month and involves recapping the tactics that were practised during the short-term IPT. The goal is to keep the individual functioning healthily. That is at least at the level they were after regular sessions stopped. Preventing the stress of added social engagement from triggering fresh episodes of depression does the trick.