Interpersonal psychotherapy for antenatal and postpartum depression

Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


NLM Title Abbreviation

Prim Psychiatry

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Primary Psychiatry

Start Page



Despite its prevalence, postpartum depression is frequently not detected. Primary care physicians (PCPs) are often a woman's only contact with healthcare professionals. These professionals have a vital role in the screening and treatment of depressed women; therefore it is necessary that PCPs be aware of assessment issues and effective treatments. This article describes the use of interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), a time-limited and empirically validated treatment for perinatal depression, in terms of the relevant clinical issues for pregnant or postpartum women. During the assessment phase, the symptoms of depression must be disentangled from the normal physical states of pregnancy and the postpartum, and an accurate diagnosis must be made. During the initial and intermediate phases of treatment, interpersonal problems that are common to the perinatal period are addressed. Given the risk for future depressive episodes, provisions for future treatment must be established prior to the conclusion of therapy. With these adaptations, IPT can be modified for effective use with perinatal women. As a result, PCPs may gain an increased understanding of both an effective treatment and the salient interpersonal issues for these women.


Depression, Postpartum -- Therapy, Psychotherapy -- Methods, Diagnosis, Psychosocial, Female

Published Article/Book Citation

Primary Psychiatry, 11:3 (2004) pp.52-.

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