Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. was Director of Mental Help Net from 1999 to 2011. Dr. Dombeck received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 1995 ...Read More
According to this story appearing in Yahoo today, elderly patients treated for depression appear to be better protected from relapse back into depression when they stay on a maintainance therapy consisting of continued antidepressant medication vs. monthly “interpersonal” psychotherapy or placebo (a treatment without an active ingredient). This sort of finding is not particularly surprising. It’s fairly established that maintainance doses of anti-depressant medication can help adults keep from relapsing back into a major depressive episode. That the maintanance dose of psychotherapy didn’t work out very well I guess isn’t all that surprising either. Psychotherapy isn’t like medicine. You can’t lower the dose of it in the same manner and get similar results. At least not with Interpersonal psychotherapy, which is a manualized (systematized) form of psychodynamic psychotherapy whoes major active ingredient is the analysis of transference. How can you do an analysis of transference with people when you aren’t meeting regularly? Events have to be dealt with while they still have some emotional urgency behind them. A better therapy to test on a monthly basis would have been cognitive behavioral in nature, as that therapy can be practiced in a self-help mode without a therapist, I think.