Interpersonal Psychotherapy: Not Just For Depression

Woman at ocean

When it comes to mental illness and eating disorders, there are a myriad of treatment approaches that can be helpful for the individual who might be struggling. Thanks to ongoing research in the mental health field, treatment methods are improving and evolving as the understanding of these illnesses, such as depression, increases. When in treatment for something like an eating disorder, which touches on a complex number of factors, it is important to work with your team to determine which approaches might be more helpful for you and your specific and unique circumstances.  Interpersonal Psychotherapy is one of the treatments available for mental illness and eating disorders.

Understanding Interpersonal Psychotherapy

One helpful psychotherapy approach for mental illness is interpersonal psychotherapy or IPT. IPT has been widely used to treat a variety of psychiatric disorders, more commonly anxiety and mood disorders, such as depression. IPT focuses on interpersonal issues, functioning from the understanding that interpersonal distress is connected with psychological symptoms [1]. Some of the main goals for IPT include improved interpersonal functioning, symptom resolution, and increased social support.

While IPT was initially and originally developed as a treatment for depression, it has since been widely used to treat a variety of disorders and mental illnesses. IPT has shown to be an effective form of psychotherapy and treatment for the following conditions, including [2]:Woman in field fighting depression

  • Postpartum depression
  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Bulimia Nervosa
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Utilizing IPT for Eating Disorder Treatment

Research focused on the effectiveness of IPT for eating disorder treatment has found that IPT may be especially helpful for those eating disorders in which binge eating is a feature [3]. IPT for eating disorders, also known as IPT-ED, essentially mirrors IPT for depression, as it primarily focuses on any current interpersonal difficulties [3]. For an individual who may potentially have interpersonal conflicts that may be directly related or connected to the eating disorder itself, this form of psychotherapy may be effective for treatment.

As always, be sure to work closely with your treatment team to determine what forms of therapy and approaches may be most helpful in your recovery journey.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

How has IPT been helpful in your eating disorder recovery?

Crystal Headshot 2About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus on eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Director of Content and Social Media for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing are integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.


[1]:  Interpersonal Psychotherapy Institute,

[2]:  Weissman, Myrna M.; Markowitz, John C. (1998). “An Overview of Interpersonal Psychotherapy”. In Markowitz, John C. Interpersonal Psychotherapy. American Psychiatric Press. pp. 1–33. ISBN 978-0-88048-836-5.

[3]:  Champion, L., & Power, M. J. (2012). Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Eating Disorders. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 19(2), 150–158.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on November 16, 2016
Published on

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He is responsible for the operations of Eating Disorder Hope and ensuring that the website is functioning smoothly.