Caring for myself

In a busy world, a person’s health may be a casualty of hectic schedules and everyday emotional stressors. This kind of stress may be related to the development of a number of debilitating conditions and may include mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety disorders.

Renowned physician and author, Dr. Gabor Maté, suggests that only by taking the time to reconnect with ones own needs, emotions and bodies, can a person hope to overcome these manifestations of stress.

“Our internal selves can be our greatest enemy,” says Dr. Maté. “We need to recognize that by forcing ourselves to live up to our own or perceived social expectations, we may be making ourselves sick.”

Dr. Maté encourages individuals to be more vigilant about their own mental and physical health and take a more active role in maintaining their well being. While stress and feeling down or blue are parts of normal life, Dr. Maté argues that reducing and even preventing stress, often the precursor to conditions like depression and anxiety, is at the heart of sustainable health.

Identifying these stressors or illnesses in yourself, however, is challengi. How do you differentiate between normal, temporary blahs and a serious condition?

In the case of depression, a few symptoms to look out for include the following:

  • Feeling sad or down most of the day, every day for weeks or months
  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy, including sex
  • Appetite/weight change
  • Significant feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or guilt
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
What makes these symptoms different from ordinary experience?
  • They’re lasting
  • They cause you significant distress
  • They interfere with your life and happiness

Dr. Maté suggests that the more people know about themselves, the better chance they have of finding a healthier equilibrium between their mental and physical states. Of course, mental illness can also result in feelings of isolation and loneliness and may require professional medical intervention. “Medication can be very useful in helping people achieve remission from depression,” says Dr. Maté. “But remission should then be regarded as an opportunity to explore and better understand those other influencers and stressors in a person’s life.”

If you think you may be experiencing depression or anxiety, it’s important to remember that your doctor is an important resource about how to achieve remission from depression – and a critical source of support along the way.

For more information about these conditions, go to