Interpersonal psychotherapy recognizes that interpersonal sensitivity, also referred to as interpersonal deficits, contributes to feelings of alienation and aloneness and as such are unique problem areas for those struggling dysphoria. Interpersonal deficits may also include interpersonal sensitivity, in which in an individual is viewed by themselves or others as overly sensitive to rejection and who tend to be lacking in meaningful attachments. Interpersonal sensitivity relates to a difficulty in forming and maintaining relationships that often results in loneliness and social isolation. This typically results in the lack of a social support network and leads to interpersonal problems, and often psychiatric problems such as depression due to attachment needs not being met. This is particularly likely if a social stressor occurs such as a transition or death. Interpersonal psychotherapy recognizes that these feelings of alienation may also be masked by depression and social needs may be met through the affiliations with other users.
Interpersonal psychotherapy treatment goals to address interpersonal sensitivity involve improving the patient’s current relationship functioning; helping the patient establish new supportive relationships; and resolving the patient’s acute interpersonal stressor(s). The achievement of these goals will likely involve an understanding of relationship patterns that assist and impede the formation and maintenance of relationships. Within the context of treatment for depression a review of current and historical relationships may take place, as well as assisting the client to reconnect with old relationships and form new relationships.
During a period of depression, interpersonal relationships may deteriorate and this is in part due to the tendency of depressed people to isolate and in doing so they do not hold up their end of the relationship. Interpersonal psychotherapy recognizes that depressed people tend to lose interest in their interpersonal relationships. As a person recovers from depression, there are typically alienated relationships that require attention. Interpersonal sensitivities can complicate this process. For example, if an individual has difficulty accepting responsibility for their isolation, this can interfere with stabilizing the ignored relationships. Additionally, forming new relationships and support systems are crucial to recovery from depression. A person in recovery from depression may find themselves lacking in relationships entirely because they isolated themselves when they were depressed. Treatment goals for interpersonal sensitivity would include identifying isolation and interpersonal problem areas that contribute to symptom formation, as well as developing strategies to improve interpersonal relationship skills. If you are considering our intensive outpatient program for depression and anxiety, please give us a call!