Interpersonal therapy is based on the idea that stressful life events can trigger episodes of depression; in turn, depression can interfere with a person's ability to function socially and can provoke negative life events. This type of therapy has been demonstrated to be effective for major depression (including the postpartum period). It has also been adapted to treat specific types of depression, eating disorders, anxiety disorders and other symptoms.
Interpersonal psychotherapy is a short-term therapy lasting about 12 to 16 sessions, in which a patient focuses on current interpersonal difficulties in her life. Therapists using this approach focus on the connections between current life events and the onset and persistence of depressive symptoms. Specific problem areas in the patient's life are identified, and the patient and therapist explore how they relate to the illness. By resolving interpersonal problems in her life, the patient improves her life situation and at the same time relieves the symptoms of her illness.