The efficacy of interpersonal therapy as a psychotherapeutic intervention in the treatment of postpartum depression

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Rhattigan, Yvonne
Issue Date
Higher Diploma in Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Postpartum Depression (PPD) is a serious depressive disorder that negatively affects some women, challenging their sense of identity in their newly altered reality, leaving them distraught and anxious, while they care for their new baby. PPD is a common but incapacitating condition that can, in some cases, be life-threatening. PPD has a profound impact on the patient, her baby, the mother-infant relationship and has further implications for her partner and wider family. PPD can be diagnosed if the patient is capable of disclosing how she is really feeling to her clinician. PPD is however, often undiagnosed and untreated. Biological and psychosocial risk factors for PPD have been identified in recent studies. Treatment for PPD is dependent on the severity of its symptoms and the patient’s ability to function. PPD is a treatable disorder. This dissertation examined Interpersonal Therapy as a treatment for PPD. This study explored IPT as a psychotherapy that presents the patient with a biopsychosocial model, as a way of understanding her situation. Findings endorse an emphasis on interpersonal dysfunction and conflict resolution in the present, making it a practical therapy, linking triggers to the patient’s mood. This theoretical research has attempted to evaluate Interpersonal Therapy as a treatment for women with PPD. Findings of this study have revealed that IPT is an effective, but relatively new method of treatment for PPD. IPT is still in its infancy and has moved from clinical research to clinical practice in numerous countries around the world, including Ireland. This research has concluded therefore, that IPT, as a new therapy, requires further research, if it is to be evaluated comprehensively in Ireland. As a major public health issue, it is imperative that PPD is screened for, diagnosed and treated, to allow new mothers a more positive experience with their new babies.