IPT is based on the concept that depressive symptoms occur within the context of disturbed relationships. Intuitively, the loss of a meaningful relationship or serious conflict within an existing one can have a tremendous influence on feelings. IPT helps patients understand their feelings and how their personal problems and conflicts relate to their depression.
“Everything is but what your opinion makes it; and that opinion lies with yourself.”
– Marcus Aurelius (121-180)
Twenty-nine-year old George H. is a good example of how well IPT can work. Having lost his job two years ago, George was not able to find work since then and had become increasingly depressed. He and his wife were also having bitter conflicts because she had not become pregnant – something George really wanted her to do. Encouraged to explore his feelings with his therapist, George agreed that his depression might be related to his job loss and his inability to find a meaningful role for himself.
He also began to appreciate the fact that he was unconsciously pressuring his wife to become pregnant as a way of finding a new role for himself as a father, given the loss of his previous role as breadwinner. Talking about these feelings with his therapist, George began to appreciate how much his self-esteem was tied into being successfully employed, and that he had responded to this loss with anger and shame. He decided to take a two-week vacation, and by the time he got back, he was feeling great which also helped him search for work.
IPT clearly helped George understand how losing his role as a breadwinner had made him feel angry, vulnerable and depressed. This insight should help George better anticipate problems which might occur in the future and cope with them in a more positive and pro-active way.
The rate of success with IPT in depression is also high, with between 70 to 80% of those who undergo the therapy becoming better.
“While I may be in the gutter, I can turn over and look at the stars.”
– Adapted from Oscar Wilde