If you had depression once, but you are cured, can it come back?

Unfortunately, yes. Minor forms of depression can be cured entirely but for more severe forms, the symptoms may return in about 50-80 per cent of people. That is why doctors often recommend continuing treatment for several months after the resolution of symptoms. Addressing risk factors for relapse such as personal stressors and negative ruminations through talk therapy, meditation or lifestyle changes can help. Studies also suggest that positive psychology activities – such as writing letters of gratitude, counting one's blessings, performing acts of kindness and meditating on positive feelings toward others – can help prevent flare-ups in response to stress.

How do I know if I have a healthy thought life? I feel like I get stuck in my thinking patterns and don’t always know how to get out of my own head – how can a therapist help?

Our way of thinking actually has the power to heal and transform our brains. This amazing mind-brain connection lets us know that we don’t have to be stuck in “stinking thinking”! There are so many ways that we can move to a better state of mind by consciously evaluating and directing our thought patterns.

Cognitive distortions are irrational and often intrusive thoughts that can impact your emotional and physical wellbeing. They also play a role in motivating your day-to-day behaviours and interaction in relationships. They regularly come in the form of negative automatic thoughts that are not necessarily consciously constructed or sought out but, without analysis, they tend to lead us down paths that don’t serve us well.

Everyone experiences mental distress from time-to-time but certain distortion patterns may be more prevalent based on personality type and lived experiences in one’s family of origin. You may find that you tend to see evidence of one or two types of problematic thinking more than others and that is an indication of where you might feel most stuck. Therapists can be tremendously helpful in supporting clients to identify and uproot core beliefs that are not producing healthy thinking.

The truth is, we don’t have to believe everything we think! With some psycho-education to help identify the distortions, and some help to find productive and supportive alternative pathways, you can think yourself into a new and healthier state of mind. And your whole self will thank you for it!