Efficacy of intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy in mood disorders: A critical review

Alice Caldiroli, Enrico Capuzzi, Irene Riva, Stefania Russo, Massimo Clerici, Cyrus Roustayan, Allan Abbass, Massimiliano Buoli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) is an intervention introduced by Davanloo in order to treat anxiety, mood and somatic symptom, and personality disorders. It is a brief intervention aiming to identify and process painful or forbidden emotions and consequently to override symptoms and self-destructive tendencies. In this review we examine the efficacy of ISTDP on symptoms in patients with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Bipolar Disorder (BD). Methods: A thorough search of articles in Pubmed, PsycINFO, Isi Web of Knowledge was carried out in order to obtain available studies of ISTDP for BD and MDD. We included all studies conducted on patients with a diagnosis of MDD or BD and who received ISTDP. Results: Eight studies were included. These were two randomized controlled trials and six observational studies. Overall the results of the included manuscripts suggest a positive effect of ISTDP on depressive symptoms for patients affected by mood disorders. Furthermore, they suggest ISTDP may be cost-effective through reducing doctor visits and hospitalizations in follow-up. Limitations: Most studies had small samples and consisted of non-randomized trials. Conclusions: These are preliminary positive results on the effectiveness of this approach for the treatment of depressive symptoms. They have to be confirmed by studies with larger sample sizes and by comparing this technique with other psychological treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-379
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Bipolar Disorder (BD)
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Efficacy of intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy in mood disorders: A critical review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this