The purposes of this research are: (1) to evaluate interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) as a treatment for postpartum depression; (2) to evaluate the effect of IPT on a) women's adjustment in their relationships with their spouses, children, families, and friends, b) the women's responsiveness to their infants, and c) the infants' affective expression and emotional regulation; (3) to determine the rate of recurrence of depression in successfully treated women over an 18 month period following the end of treatment; and (4) to evaluate a clinical-social model of depression recurrence in successfully treated women. A sample of 104 postpartum depressed women is being randomly assigned to immediate or delayed (a waiting list control) IPT. Treatment will consist of 12 to 16 sessions (over 12 weeks) with a private therapist. Assessment of women before, during and after therapy with several measures of depression and social adjustment will be undertaken. After the treatment trial, all women will be followed for 18 months with assessments of depression and social adjustment occurring every 3 months. Assessments of children will take place at pre-therapy, post-therapy, and at 2 years of age. We expect that women receiving interpersonal psychotherapy will evidence significantly lower levels of depression, higher levels of social adjustment than women in the waiting list control condition, and be more responsive to their infants. We also expect that approximately 40% to 50% of successfully treated women will experience a recurrence of their depression during the 18 month follow-up period. We expect that previous history of depression and other psychiatric disorders will be associated with increased risk of depression recurrence. The ongoing research should prepare for later studies to (a) prevent depression recurrence in women successfully treated for postpartum depression and (b) to improve the social adjustment of young children by reducing their exposure to maternal depression. The final purpose of this proposed research is to evaluate the contribution of maternal depression in the first two years of children's lives to their adjustment at age 2. Finally, we expect that children whose mothers were chronically depressed during their first two years of life will show poorer adjustment at 2 years of age.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1-CRB-B (01))
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University of Iowa
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Iowa City
United States
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Postpartum Depression: Action Towards Causes and Treatment (PACT) Consortium (2015) Heterogeneity of postpartum depression: a latent class analysis. Lancet Psychiatry 2:59-67
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Segre, Lisa S; O'Hara, Michael W; Arndt, Stephan et al. (2007) The prevalence of postpartum depression: the relative significance of three social status indices. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 42:316-21
Forman, David R; O'Hara, Michael W; Stuart, Scott et al. (2007) Effective treatment for postpartum depression is not sufficient to improve the developing mother-child relationship. Dev Psychopathol 19:585-602
O'Hara, M W; Stuart, S; Gorman, L L et al. (2000) Efficacy of interpersonal psychotherapy for postpartum depression. Arch Gen Psychiatry 57:1039-45