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Arch Womens Ment Health. 2014 Aug;17(4):257-68. doi: 10.1007/s00737-014-0442-7. Epub 2014 Jun 24.

Interpersonal psychotherapy for postpartum depression: a systematic review.

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  • 1Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Section of Psychiatry, University of Pisa, Via Roma, 67, 56100, Pisa, Italy, m.miniati@med.unipi.it.


Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is a dynamically informed and present-focused psychotherapy originally conceived for patients with unipolar depression and subsequently modified for other disorders, including postpartum depression (PPD). The aim of this paper is to review the evidence on the efficacy of IPT for PPD. We conducted a systematic review of studies published between 1995 and April 2013 assessing the efficacy of IPT for PPD using PubMed and PsycINFO. We included the following: (i) articles that presented a combination of at least two of the established terms in the abstract, namely, interpersonal [all fields] and ("psychotherapy" [MeSH terms] or psychotherapy [all fields]) and (perinatal [all fields] or postpartum [all fields]) and ("depressive disorder" [MeSH terms] or ("depressive" [all fields] and "disorder" [all fields]) or depressive disorder [all fields] or "depression" [all fields] or depression [MeSH terms]); (ii) manuscripts in English; (iii) original articles; and (iv) prospective or retrospective observational studies (analytical or descriptive), experimental, or quasi-experimental. Exclusion criteria were as follows: (i) other study designs, such as case reports, case series, and reviews; (ii) non-original studies including editorials, book reviews, and letters to the editor; and (iii) studies not specifically designed and focused on IPT. We identified 11 clinical primary trials assessing the efficacy of IPT for PPD, including 3 trials with group interventions (G-IPT) and one that required the presence of the partner (PA-IPT). We also identified six studies interpersonal-psychotherapy-oriented preventive interventions for use in pregnancy. IPT studies showed overall clinical improvement in the most commonly used depression measures in postpartum depressed women (EPDS, HDRS, BDI) and often-full recovery in several cases of treated patients. Evidence from clinical trials indicates that, when administered in monotherapy (or in combination with antidepressants), IPT may shorten the time to recovery from PPD and prolong the time spent in clinical remission.

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