Interpersonal therapy (IPT) for bipolar depression

Some evidence – there is enough evidence to indicate that this can be a helpful treatment option.

Interpersonal therapy (IPT) aims to reduce symptoms of depression by improving the relationships you have with others. IPT focuses on four main categories of relationship problems: 

  • interpersonal disputes (disagreements you have with others) 
  • role transitions (adapting to life changes) 
  • grief 
  • interpersonal deficits (such as being too dependent on someone, having a fear of intimacy, or being hostile to others) 

While there have been no studies in young people with bipolar depression, there is reason to believe IPT might be a helpful treatment. This comes from work on using IPT to treat young people with unipolar depression (depression that’s not part of bipolar disorder), and in adults with bipolar depression.  

If you are offered IPT, it should be adapted for you and include psychoeducation about bipolar depression. You will usually have weekly individual sessions, and usually your family will also be involved. IPT for bipolar depression usually takes place over at least 3 months.  

Treatments outlined on these webpages may not be available in every local area. It’s important that you discuss with your GP or mental health professional the treatment options available to you. You can also search for services near you on our Youth Wellbeing Directory and find out more about referral processes here.

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