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A Controlled Clinical Treatment Trial of Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Pregnant Women at 3 New York City Sites

Margaret G. Spinelli, MD; Jean Endicott, PhD; Andrew C. Leon, PhD† ; Ray R. Goetz, PhD; Robin B. Kalish, MD; Lois E. Brustman, MD; Yamilette R. Carmona, MS; Quisqueya Meyreles, CSW; May Vega, CSW; and Joan L. Schulick, CSW

Published: April 15, 2013

Article Abstract

Objective: While treatment decisions for antepartum depression must be personalized to each woman and her illness, guidelines from the American Psychiatric Association and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology include the recommendation of psychotherapy for mild-to-moderate depression in pregnant women. Although we previously demonstrated the efficacy of interpersonal psychotherapy for antepartum depression in a sample of Hispanic women, this study provides a larger, more diverse sample of African American, Hispanic, and white pregnant women from 3 New York City sites in order to provide greater generalizability.

Method: A 12-week bilingual, parallel-design, controlled clinical treatment trial compared interpersonal psychotherapy for antepartum depression to a parenting education program control group. An outpatient sample of 142 women who met DSM-IV criteria for major depressive disorder was randomly assigned to interpersonal psychotherapy or the parenting education program from September 2005 to May 2011. The 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS-17) was the primary outcome measure of mood. Other outcome scales included the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and the Clinical Global Impressions scale (CGI). The Maternal Fetal Attachment Scale (MFAS) assessed mother’s interaction with the fetus.

Results: Although this study replicated previous findings that interpersonal psychotherapy is a beneficial treatment for antepartum depression, the parenting education program control condition showed equal benefit as measured by the HDRS-17, EPDS, CGI, and MFAS.

Conclusions: This study supports the recommendation for the use of interpersonal psychotherapy for mild-to-moderate major depressive disorder in pregnancy. The parenting education program may be an alternative treatment that requires further study.

Trial Registration: identifier: NCT00251043

J Clin Psychiatry 2013;74(4):393-399

Submitted: May 25, 2012; accepted October 29, 2012 (doi:10.4088/JCP.12m07909).

‘  Deceased.

Corresponding author: Margaret G. Spinelli, MD, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York State Psychiatric Institute, 1051 Riverside Drive, Box 123, New York, NY 10032 (

Volume: 74

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