Depression-Related Research


Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Spouses of OIF/OEF Veterans (IRB# 6057)


Principal Investigator: John Markowitz, MD

Click here to participate in this treatment program

Overview of the Study:

The National Guard and Reserve occupy a uniquely difficult position in the US military. Often having enlisted without expecting to fight in the Middle East, they may carry even higher risk than other troops for disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder (MDD). Deemed second class soldiers by some in other services, dispersed among other services’ fighting units, National Guard and Reserve members disperse into the civilian population rather than residing on bases when they return to the US. They have limited mental health benefits. Their position is fragmented, isolated, and neglected.

Soldiers’ spouses face parallel difficulties. Their partners often return from combat with new or worsened psychiatric problems and have difficulty reintegrating into civilian life. Isolated in the community, these spouses are on their own, without the support or cohesion of base facilities and other spouses facing similar issues. They may suffer spousal abuse from aggressive and paranoid ex-combatants. Families must not only reintegrate returnees, but also await their potential or actual redeployment. Spouses may already feel overwhelmed as single parents in their partners’ absence, then have this compounded by the soldier’s arrival or departure. Thus spouses of National Guard and Reserve troops carry increased risk of MDD with few treatment resources (for example, no VA benefits): a growing, understudied, undertreated, high risk population.

This study involves a 12 week open trial of interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), a time-limited therapy demonstrated to treat MDD. We are also testing in a funded trial for chronic PTSD. IPT links depression to interpersonal contexts: marital disputes, the military partner’s return home or redeployment (“role transitions”), or complicated bereavement.