Interpersonal Therapy: Treatment Of Depression

In this article, we will explain what interpersonal therapy is and how it treats depression.
Interpersonal therapy: Treatment of depression

Depression defines a deep and disabling, inner sadness. It is something that many do not associate with the social context we live in. The fact is that we are social beings and context is just as important to us as a vital organ. There are many new types of interventions that give importance to the social environment, among others interpersonal therapy.

In this article, we will explain what interpersonal therapy is and how it treats depression. We will also explore its history and what makes it so different from other, psychological interventions to address this issue. Furthermore, we will talk about its effectiveness in adults, children and teens.

abstract painting of woman

Characteristics of interpersonal therapy

Interpersonal therapy was originally developed by Gerald L. Klerman and his team, as a therapy to help us not fall into a depression. However, after analyzing the benefits, they concluded that this type of therapy has made us stronger and more resistant to other problems.

The great power of interpersonal therapy lies in its ability to  consider the patient’s most important emotional ties and interpersonal relationships. This type of therapy also takes into account the social context in which the patient lives.

IPT (interpersonal therapy) conceptualizes depression as a set of three components: symptomatology, social drive, and personality. It does this with the goal of affecting the first two components. The therapeutic model focuses on 4 interpersonal problems.

The therapeutic model

  • Interpersonal conflicts: They can be family, social or work related. These conflicts are inevitable as they stem from the counter-position of two or more views. They are only treated in therapy if they cause great unrest. Interpersonal therapy is the best way to approach them.
  • Rearrangement of roles: Interpersonal conflicts or problems with roles arise from conflicts. The affected person, along with other significant people in their lives, expects different behaviors from specific roles. In other words, there is a discrepancy between behavioral expectations  of a mother, father, or boss.
  • Grief: When the pain of losing a loved one is too intense, and lasts longer than it should, one can experience pathological grief. IPT helps us with our emotions, and fills the void we feel in a healthy and positive way. 
  • Interpersonal deficit: This problem arises when the person does not have an adequate, social, supportive network. As a consequence, feelings of loneliness and isolation will arise. In that case, interpersonal therapy can help us find our own, social space, and improve our social skills, among other things.

These variables are extremely important, in the context of depression, because when one of them comes into play, people risk falling into a “vital crisis”. These crises give rise to a myriad of mental problems, one of the most common of which is depression.

However, this type of intervention is not only effective against depression. For example,  interpersonal therapy is an effective treatment for eating disorders. 

interpersonal therapy

Interpersonal therapy in childhood and adolescence

According to external,  interpersonal therapy is effective in treating depression in adults and teens. This is important because it emphasizes the importance of having the ability to handle social relationships. Likewise, it is just as important to be able to deal with the emotions that may arise based on our relationships.

It is important to remember that we live in a social environment that is constantly changing and we need to adapt to it. We must learn to confront our social problems and understand that our emotions are affected by social causes.

That means we need to improve our ability to deal with our problems. Depression does not have to be a personal or inner problem. It can be a contextual or relational problem. 

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