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Episode 24: Managing Mental Health with Dr. Gail Saltz | Recognizing It and Helping a Loved One

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About This Episode

Managing Mental Health with Dr. Gail Saltz | Recognizing It and Helping a Loved One

In this episode of Discover with Dr. Dan | Proactive Health, Dr. Dan meets with Dr. Gail Saltz to destigmatize mental health and to learn about different treatment options. Listen to the full podcast below to learn more about how you can be an ally to those around you who are struggling with mental illness.

The Elephant in the Room

Why is it that when we talk about personal health, people often shy away from the topic of all things mental health? We’re comfortable talking about our bodily issues like asthma, high blood pressure, and lactose intolerance yet when anybody mentions their depression, the room goes quiet. Dr. Gail Saltz attributes this stigma to a lack of knowledge and understanding, while also acknowledging the atrocities that were performed as treatments on people with mental health issues before we had an in-depth understanding of the brain. “Close to half of all Americans, at some point will have a mental health diagnosis. And when you look at it that way, you realize that’s not so abnormal… almost half of us are struggling.” The more we talk about mental health, the less awkward of a subject it becomes and the more people feel a sense of belonging among their peers. As people share their stories of struggles, recovery, coping and hope, it helps others get a grasp for how normal mental health awareness actually is. 

How You Can Seek Help

Many people are scared to seek treatment for fear of judgement and because therapy and medication are expensive. Even for those who can afford it, finding the right therapist and the right medication dosages can be exhausting and feel like a never ending cycle. With all of these factors, many feel they’re out of luck when it comes to affording treatment and finding the right therapist. According to Dr. Saltz, many people don’t exhibit signs of mental illness until their late teens and twenties, which can be a recipe for disaster for those who live on their own and have bills to pay, living paycheck to paycheck as a young member of society. Often therapy is the last thing on their minds when living expenses require most of their monthly wages. On top of that, the wait times for some practitioners can be extensively long, forcing people seeking treatment to wait for months before their first visit. “There are other vehicles and you should absolutely explore them because I would not wait.” Often unknown, it’s completely acceptable to seek therapy from people out of your state. If you’re doing research and you find a specialist who works with your budget but is out of state, it’s worth asking if they offer telemedicine so you can still receive their services. Telemedicine has given many people the opportunity for treatment unlike ever before.

How to Support Those Around You

With the statistic that 50% of Americans will be affected by mental illness at some point in their lives, it’s more than likely that you know someone struggling at this moment. So, how can you be an ally? How can you offer support? One of the best things you can do is to be social with this person. If they’re displaying signs of mental illness, ask them what’s going on in their life and listen with an open mind. Before rushing to phrases like, “Don’t be sad, you have so much to be happy for,” try this instead: “I hear you. What you’re feeling is valid and I’m here to offer help.” If a person knows they have a support system, chances are they can deal with their mental illness just that much easier. If you suspect someone you know is suicidal, ask them. Ask if they’re having harmful thoughts. If they say yes, get them help as soon as possible and be there as their support system. 

I can’t tell you how important it is that if you interrupt a moment of suicidality, you really can be saving a life because many, many people who’ve made suicide attempts and been unsuccessful really acknowledged they regret having done that.

Dr. Saltz leaves us with one last note of hope. There’s an evident link between mental illness and great strength. Brains affected by mental illness already have the wiring for certain key factors that play into talents and strengths beyond the average person. It’s no coincidence that some of the greatest inventors, scientists, artists and musicians suffered greatly from mental illness. Difference is what makes us stronger. When we tap into what makes us different and recognize the talents we have, we can find fulfillment in our lives – which is worth living for.

To learn more about Dr. Gail Saltz and managing mental health, check out the Discover | Dr. Dan Proactive Health podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Tuesday. 


Dr. Dan Gubler: (00:00)

Welcome to discover Dr. Dan | The Proactive Health Podcast. This podcast is sponsored by Brilliant, an innovative proactive wellness company. Brilliant helps people to live a healthier and happier life by discovering and using bioactive natural ingredients from plants to formulate products that help them discover and unleash their innate brilliance. See for more information. Today, we will be talking with Dr. Gail Saltz, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell School of Medicine, author of The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius, and host of the How Can I Help podcast from iHeartRadio. Dr. Gail Saltz is best known for her work as a relationship, family, emotional wellbeing, and mental health and wellness contributor in the media and frequently shares her expertise and advice in print, online, on television, and radio. As a go-to for all of the major news organizations, Dr. Saltz is a fantastic expert to provide commentary on the mental health aspects of current and breaking issues and news. She is a best-selling author of numerous books and serves as a medical expert for the Physicians for Human Rights. Her most recent book, The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius is a powerful and inspiring examination of the connection between the potential for great talent and conditions commonly thought to be disabilities. She’s also the host of the Personology and How Can I Help podcasts from iHeartRadio? Dr. Saltz is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the New York Psychoanalytical Institute and has a private practice in Manhattan. Dr. Saltz, welcome to the show.

Dr. Gail Saltz: (01:53)

Thank you for having me.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (01:55)

It’s wonderful to have you on the show with us today. So how did you get into studying mental health?

Dr. Gail Saltz: (02:03)

Well, I was actually on my way to becoming an internist and I was actually in my residency and completing my residency in internal medicine. So I did that first, and there was a psychiatrist who would once a week come on rounds with us. And the point was to discuss the patients, what he called life narrative: their life history, and how that was informative in terms of medically, what might be happening with them and how their mind was affecting their body, how their body then therefore was affecting their mind. And for me, that became the highlight of the week. I just was really enraptured and fascinated by what I came to feel was the most important organ, the brain, and ultimately felt that I would be happier and I was more fascinated in the area of psychiatry. And so I then went on to a psychiatry residency and I made that shift and I was an academic psychiatrist in practice and a psychoanalyst.

Dr. Gail Saltz: (03:10)

And I started getting calls from my hospitals, public information department saying, “We really need someone to answer some of these questions, things that are coming up in the news of some of the early stories were, gosh, they were, you know, president bill Clinton. And why did he do what he did in the Oval Office? And what does that mean? And how do we talk with kids about that?” And the kind of things that I would be talking with patients in my office about, but the general public was interested in the answers to some of these things. So I started answering some of those calls, which again, created another shift in the direction of my career and started doing public information or public education. And I was also very acutely aware of in those days, particularly in the early nineties, that the number one reason people did not seek treatment, though it was obvious that they needed it was, stigma. It still remains the name number one reason. I think we’ve come a long way in terms of talking about mental health publicly, in those days, nobody spoke about it at all. I did a lot of media because frankly there wasn’t anybody else doing it or talking about it. And it was a difficult topic for people to even talk amongst themselves about. And it was a real impediment to getting treatment. I mean, I literally had patients who were like, “Is there a door that I can enter that no one will see me come in?” I was aware of patients in places where they would need to park, “What other parking lot place can I park? No one will see my car out here.” Really people feeling very ashamed, which was unfortunate and kept people from treatment or feeling good about treatment. And that became a big part of my public education push.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (05:08)

Yeah. I find that fascinating that we’re not ashamed to talk about, we have high cholesterol or we’re on dialysis, but this other vital health component, we’re ashamed of, we want to hide it in the dark.

Dr. Gail Saltz: (05:22)

I think it came out of some old misconceptions that mental illness wasn’t biologic, that it was a matter of your strength, your, just like you could pull yourself up by your bootstraps and duke that out kind of stuff, that people had control over it by just their will. And that therefore placed a judgment on it. I think that was part of the problem. I think the fact that psychiatry has been the latest among specialties to frankly make progress, right? We did a lot of terrible things to people in the past that are just downright frightening because we had no idea what we were doing. And I think obviously that impacted people’s fears, understandably, about the field and because a lot of it is mysterious. It was unknown and unknowns always create a lot of fear for people.

Dr. Gail Saltz: (06:28)

So I’m like, “There’s a blood test for this, or you can see it on an x-ray.” You couldn’t see this, you still can’t see this so much, although we’re actually, we actually with MRI and pet scans and so on, we are starting to be able to see things for sure. But it was so late compared to other specialties that the mystery, I think also was frightening to people. And then to be honest, anything that affects your brain, right, ends up being amongst the most frightening of illnesses for people. We could be talking about dementia, delirium, or any mental health problem. And seeing somebody in the throws of something serious can be frightening and experiencing that, it just, which is why I’m talking to people about it being the most important thing to treat, right?

Dr. Gail Saltz: (07:24)

I mean, you can get along with certain medical illnesses going on and feel that you still have functionality in life, but when your brain is ill, so to speak, quite ill, you really can’t, and it feels so awful that people don’t even want to identify with the person’s suffering and that makes it hard for them to talk about it, to seek treatment, to help that person seek treatment. So I think all of those things have attributed and it’s been so important and such a big plus that so many young people are now able to talk about struggling, their own struggles, celebrities have talked about their struggles, public, other public figures, and that makes it clearer that at some point or another, close to half of all Americans, at some point will have a mental health diagnosis. And when you look at it that way you realize that’s not so abnormal, right, if almost half of us are struggling.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (08:31)

Right. So that’s interesting. That stat is mind boggling. What do you think are some of the drivers for this that is fueling this mental health, I don’t know if you would call it a wave or a plague, what are your thoughts there about some of the drivers?

Dr. Gail Saltz: (08:46)

Well, I think that it’s always been there and of course stigma has kept people from recognizing it or admitting it, and so there has been a good amount of denial and some of the rise in numbers really is related to just diagnosis now or diagnosis that didn’t happen before. But I would also say that some of the drivers of, I mean, most mental illnesses present for the first time in late teens and twenties. And again, that is population that previously maybe didn’t get diagnosed, now they are. But I also think that the stressors and the cultural expectations for that population are quite high, right? Everybody expects to have everything, succeed at everything, the cultural expectation or desire of what they want, what they think would make them happy, are not necessarily very under their control. It’s not like decades ago where, if you could support yourself, find, have some people in your life that you were happy with, comfortable with, you could make yourself a good life.

Dr. Gail Saltz: (10:12)

You might be pretty satisfied with that. I would say today, there’ve been a lot of surveys of the younger people. What is the number one most important thing you’re seeking in life? And it’s been fame, which is not necessarily under control, not something that necessarily actually loves you back when it comes down to it. And so I think the strivings for uber success and fame, whatever that means, is making, is having a lot of people feel unhappy, unsatisfied, stressed, highly anxious, and of course, really over the last several years, as you know, it’s been a stressful time in this country. So, we definitely, this past year, rates of clinical depression and anxiety disorders have gone up according to the CDC, 41%. That’s enormous. So we’re really looking at a mental health pandemic that is a wave that has followed the pandemic wave.

Dr. Gail Saltz: (11:18)

And that’s because the kinds of things that help people with their mental health, being together, having social support, having enough money to support themselves, not being racially discriminated against, those things have not been the name of the game this year. So people have been forced to be socially distanced. They’re under economic difficulty stressors. People have had to bunker down with people sometimes that which is not good for their mental health, domestic violence is up. There just been many, many factors that are extremely, fear of contagion, losing someone you loved, being ill yourself. So many factors that have disrupted. Losses, many, many losses. Loss of graduation and loss of going to, loss of your job. And systemic racism, the increased awareness, having so many of these things play into mental health and they’ve definitely risen in numbers, although it was just published in JAMA. Interestingly, suicide rates were down this year, which is amazing and not necessarily something one would have expected in this setting, which is why it’s so important to look at the data and not just postulate. And I think the hypothesis around why would suicide numbers be down in the setting of all this rise of depression, anxiety, is that there was definitely a raised awareness that this would be a hard year and you should seek treatment and it’s okay to seek treatment. And telemedicine has raised access tremendously for people. So a lot of people, a lot more people got care this year. And also to be honest, usually suicide at the end is an impulsive act. When someone is alone, a lot of people were in their houses with other people. So even if they were struggling, that might not have happened. And we’ve raised, I think the awareness of red flags for suicide. So a lot of people were aware and were driving people toward treatment if they seemed unwell.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (13:39)

Wow, fascinating. So I want to go back a little bit. You talked about this perfect storm that’s fueling this mental health plague, this pandemic, what you said. As COVID-19 numbers, thankfully are going down and the wave is going down, what do you think about the mental health pandemic wave?

Dr. Gail Saltz: (14:00)

Obviously I’m just, I’m postulating right now because it’s prospective, but I think mental health always lags well behind a trauma, right? So basically we’ve had a traumatic year and a half as a nation. And I think we’re seeing post-traumatic stress if you will. Well, first we’re seeing acute stress reaction and then some people who’ve had that acute stress reaction, anxiety, depression, and so on, after any trauma will go on to develop PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, but it’s a small percentage of them. So eventually some people will resolve from the acute stress of this as they’re able to return to normal life if they’re able to have employment, they’re able to live in a situation that’s conducive to managing their stress and anxiety and being with others and having support, et cetera.

Dr. Gail Saltz: (14:57)

But some people will continue to struggle and may even struggle more. Those are people that do definitely need treatment. So I think that we’re looking at a lag, so we were really just coming out of this. Now, many people are very, very anxious about re-entry and after a year and a half of, I would almost say training to avoid and change their behaviors and mask and do all these things that were difficult to do and feeling reassured that they were doing the right thing and making these changes, it’s like cognitive behavioral training, right? It takes some time to undo that. So at first, people going back out and doing all the things they did before, it’s going to feel weird and for some people, anxiety producing and not comfortable. And so there may be a slow, slow process of reentry, even when it’s fine, even if it’s okay. So there’ll be different people with different levels of comfort and I think that ultimately things will get better for some people, not for other people. Hopefully those people get treatment, then it will get better for them as well. We need more money and services in mental health, and that’s a big issue because right now there aren’t actually enough treaters. And so, I don’t know how that will get resolved but that is something else that needs to happen.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (16:23)

Interesting. Yeah. I know in this area where I live, if you want to talk with someone about mental health, you’re looking at a six, 12, even 18 month, you’re on the wait list. It’s really, really interesting.

Dr. Gail Saltz: (16:35)

Well sadly, that is true in many parts of the country. So I think when you say, how will it, I mean, that’s a huge factor. So unless we are able to fund more therapists and more psychiatrists and more research, we’re limited in how quickly we can treat a giant trauma of this nature.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (17:02)

So is the professional people power there? Just lacking resources or is it needing resources to train the proper people in order to address this need?

Dr. Gail Saltz: (17:15)

Some of all of the above. Technically we have parity in this country, right? You’re supposed to, your insurance company is supposed to pay what they would pay for any type of health for mental health. In reality, that often is not the case. Many people, when you get down to it, they limit the number of sessions you can have. They pay a very, very low fee. Medicare, Medicaid, exceedingly low fee. People who are highly trained often, that come out of medical school with debt, right? You come out of residency with debt, they can’t afford to see someone for $12 an hour. They literally can’t afford an overhead and et cetera. So I think there’s some, there’s need for actual parity, which, and I think there is the need for more training.

Dr. Gail Saltz: (18:13)

We know that a heavy number of psychiatrists, particularly, and child and adolescent psychiatrists are older and are entering retirement. And the number coming behind them is a smaller number. So there legitimately are not enough people trained, and we can train more people. We are training more people. Psychiatry has become a very popular specialty to go into now. So there are more people coming out, and of course there are other, you can be seen by a psychologist with someone doing medication backup. And so that’s like, those psychopharmacologists can see more patients if they’re not doing the therapy. So there are various ways to manage this but the bottom line is we kind of need both. We really do need to train more people and therefore there are more people around and we need to pay them as you would pay anybody in healthcare.

Dr. Gail Saltz: (19:17)

And when it comes to research, well, mental health definitely has gotten the shortest end of the stick in terms of NIH money, money for research. And as I said earlier, we lagged behind a lot of other fields because we’ve been the stepchild in terms of funding. So if people, if you want medicine to move forward, right, there has to be research dollars. And it’s a very exciting time because there are all these methods of imaging now and neuroscience is just busting wide open. So it is an exciting time and we are learning a tremendous amount, but there have to be research dollars there.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (19:58)

Interesting. So in our conversation so far, it seems like there’s a lot of factors that’s fueling this mental health pandemic. There’s the stigma, we talked about not wanting to talk about it. There’s environmental factors like COVID and the vaccination debate that are fueling things, coupled with the lack of resources, training, research money, it seems like this is just forming some vicious cycle.

Dr. Gail Saltz: (20:22)

I mean, I don’t want to make people feel too, I think if you want treatment, you can find treatment. And the good news today is that that person doesn’t have to be in your area. So as you’re saying your area, well, it’s an 18 month wait. Well, I would say to you, do not wait. I would say to you, you can be treated via telemedicine. You can reach out to people who are elsewhere in your state, not even in your state. You can reach out to an app like Talkspace, where you can be partnered with someone who can be anywhere. So there are other vehicles and you should absolutely explore them because I would not wait 18 months to be seen by somebody locally. Yeah.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (21:09)

Great. Well, it’s good to hear that there are resources there, and there is hope for people who want to get help right away.

Dr. Gail Saltz: (21:15)

Absolutely. Absolutely. There are a lot of, and there, also for people who don’t have great reimbursement, there are community centers. There are, there’s the outpatient department of your local hospital. There are places that will do sliding scale fee, low fee treatment. I think people should seek that out as well.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (21:38)

Great. So medication is something that’s often brought up. Some people say that you need to medicate. That it’s necessary. Other people are, like you said, the bootstrap approach. Just get with it, get with the program, square your shoulders and medication’s not needed. What are your thoughts there?

Dr. Gail Saltz: (21:56)

Well it’s actually really not black and white like that. Either way in the sense that when there was a problem, I think what’s hard for people to understand, because it is hard to understand, is that our thoughts and our feelings, our emotions, everything that we experience is a neurochemical process in the brain. So the way the brain talks to itself is through a neurotransmitter being released from one neuron to another neuron down a connection, down a wiring connection to a structure, but it’s all neurochemical. And when, for example, you have clinical depression, major depression, I don’t mean when you feel sad, we all feel all emotions and that’s normal and the goal shouldn’t be not to feel those emotions, but when you have a clinical depression and you’re truly, your functionality is impaired, and you have the constellation of symptoms that are typical of clinical depression, then there are certain neurotransmitters that are probably, let’s say not imbalanced.

Dr. Gail Saltz: (23:12)

And so, for example, you may have relatively lower amounts of serotonin than you would normally have in certain areas and in certain connections going on in the brain. And there are different ways of treating that. Thinking about it and just toughing through it doesn’t work because it’s a biological process that is happening. Why does it start? It could be because you have a genetic predisposition to it. It runs in your family. Someone’s susceptible and then something is going on and you have depression. But it doesn’t have to be. It could be, extreme difficulties and stressors going on, hormonal changes, other things that happen that precipitate the clinical depression. But the bottom line is that neurochemicals can be changed, if you will, by certain kinds of psychotherapies. So talk therapies change neurochemicals in the brain. They change brain structure actually. And that’s, what’s called a top down approach.

Dr. Gail Saltz: (24:15)

Meaning the top of your brain or the cognitive part of your brain, in your frontal lobe is where you process thought and you learn, and that can be altered with talk therapies, certain types. And then because the brain is all connected to itself through wiring, whatever’s happening in the top of the brain, ultimately gets transmitted to deeper brain structures. But another way to treat is to take a medication that alters some of those neurochemicals and usually a more so deeper brain structure. And when you, and so that’s the bottom-up approach. You are attacking the deeper brain structures that are having the experience of depression and are missing the serotonin. And then that experience gets transmitted to the frontal lobe, ultimately because it’s all connected. So your thoughts become different, less depressed. What most studies have shown is that for moderate to severe depression, for example, but really for almost anything that you call moderate or severe, a combination of medication plus psychotherapy is the gold standard. It percentage wise, the best type of treatment.

Dr. Gail Saltz: (25:34)

If I would say to you that if you’re having mild to moderate depression, anxiety, then psychotherapy alone may really be sufficient. But for people who are severely depressed, their ability to learn the new skills that essentially psychotherapy is teaching them is impaired by the depression. So you may need the medication, A to learn the psychotherapy, which will treat you and B to prevent terrible outcome. So for example, with clinical depression, the mortality rate is 15% from suicide. And so to prevent acting on suicidal thoughts, to prevent such a loss of functionality that you physically harm yourself, loss of appetite and losing tremendous amounts of weight, inability to sleep and the impact on the body and the mind of that requiring hospitalization, which takes out of your world. We never liked to hospitalize patients. We only do it when it’s dangerous for them.

Dr. Gail Saltz: (26:49)

And stepping out of life entirely. So it is sometimes, it really is valuable and important, and there are certain people who do just tremendously well on medication and really even find, there’s some people who find it’s better for them to stay on medication. They may just run lower levels of serotonin and without it they’re prone to recurrent depression. But there are many, many, most people will take medication, do psychotherapy, get better, stay on the medication for the prescribed number of months to prevent a relapse, so maybe nine months often, come off of medication and have learned the psychotherapy skills and be fine, and then come off medication really.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (27:33)

So what you’re saying then is it’s a combined approach. There’s not one or the other for best results. You need this.

Dr. Gail Saltz: (27:42)

I’m a believer based on the data in a combined approach. I will definitely tell you that there are plenty of places where your internist will give you medication. And obviously your internist is not going to do psychotherapy with you. So there are plenty of people who will give you medication and it will help. It will help. I just, it’s what I don’t like about that approach as much is that you may resolve your current depression, but you haven’t gained any tools to prevent a future depression. And it’s not as effective. So there are people who will take medication and they will do better. They will definitely do better. And then ultimately they will stop their medication. I would just say it would be better to have some coping tools to try to, when you are headed in that direction again, you can do things to help yourself.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (28:43)

Okay. So we’ve talked about this mental illness pandemic, plague. It affects all of us at some point in time, like you said. It affects the individual tremendously at that period of time, but it also affects the caregivers, the parents, family, the friends. What advice would you give to these people who are interacting with people that they love that are suffering from mental illness?

Dr. Gail Saltz: (29:07)

Yeah. That’s a great question mostly because when people start to suffer more serious mental illness, one of the first things that’s affected is judgment and their ability to self reflect and see that they are really as ill as they are or becoming ill. And so it really is incumbent to some degree, right, on the people who love this person around them to recognize signs and symptoms and say to that person, “I see that you’re really struggling and I really would like to help.” And helping could come in the form of now helping isn’t, “You don’t have anything to be depressed about,” or, “You shouldn’t be anxious about that,” or “Don’t feel that way.” “You have so much to feel good about.” Telling the person why they shouldn’t feel the way they do is not helpful.

Dr. Gail Saltz: (30:07)

It won’t fix it for sure. But it will invalidate their feelings, which is usually what makes people retreat and become even more silent and feel more stigmatized. So really what you want to do is empathize with them that you see that they’re struggling. You’re sorry that they’re really, they’re having such a hard time. You’d love to be helpful. One way to be helpful is often actually to socially engage with them and talk with them because social isolation is a symptom of a lot of mental health issues and it actually makes them worse. So trying to say, “I know it’s hard, but please have dinner with me,” or like, “I really would like to be together with you and to talk.” So that’s helpful to them. But in addition, if they’re not getting treatment or they don’t recognize that they should be getting treatment saying like, “I’m aware this is happening. I see what’s happening with you. I want to help. I really think that it would be great for you to get some care.” Now, because their judgment may be impaired, and because they may have a loss of energy to organize and do something for themselves, offering to find someone, to help them find someone, find someone for them, make an appointment from them, even escort them to a first appointment, you don’t have to go in the office with them, but just like bring them there, is a great thing to do. If you are worried that somebody is saying things or looking in such a way that you have the thought, “Gosh, is this person thinking about harming themselves?” It’s better to ask. It’s always better to ask. You’re not, it’s a myth that you will suggest something that they would then do something that they weren’t going to do before.

Dr. Gail Saltz: (31:56)

It’s always better to say, “I’m wondering if you have any thoughts of harming yourself or any thoughts about dying, killing yourself.” If they say, you then want to ask them if they have a plan. If they say yes, and they tell you that plan involves something that they have access to, take it away temporary. Just take it away to make them safe and try to get them to an emergency room. That really is an emergency. I can’t tell you how important it is that if you interrupt a moment of suicidality, you really can be saving a life because many, many people who’ve made suicide attempts and been unsuccessful really acknowledged they regret having done that. They just couldn’t see any other way out in the moment. If someone interrupts them and they get care, like it’s a whole different ball game for them. So you really can save a life, but most importantly is being able to be empathetic and try to help them get some treatment.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (33:05)

So in conclusion, I think it’s a great time to talk. You and I are talking here in the month of May. May is mental health, mental awareness month. You’ve given a lot of great advice about mental health, about how to recognize it, how to treat it for those suffering. Are there additional points of, thoughts that you have there regarding this?

Dr. Gail Saltz: (33:27)

Well, I do think we still have a ways to go when it comes to stigma and the more people share their stories, I think the more stigma will decrease. Like if you knew people in your family have had their struggles, it makes you more able to talk about your own and get help. And it makes you feel, frankly, just more normal. We really, it’s been unhelpful that we’ve come from a place of talking about abnormal or pejorative words like crazy, really not helpful, but just, everything, every one of our organs can become sick at any time. And what do we do? Well, we see a doctor. We get help, we get help for it. So that’s one point. The other point is that interestingly, many, many people with a mental health issue, because they have a mental health issue, because they have the wiring that predisposes them to that issue, also have the wiring that potentially confers unique strengths.

Dr. Gail Saltz: (34:33)

This is the work that I did for my last book. There is often a link to some extraordinary strength and mining your mind for what that is for you and how you can best play to your own strengths is really important. It’s important for self-esteem. It’s important for kids to know that about themselves and think about the direction that they want to go in. But if you look back in history at the most successful revolutionary icons that changed their field entirely or invented their field entirely, huge numbers of them had mental illness. And that is not an accident. There is this real correlation and we are now increasingly understanding it has to do with brain wiring. So we need to recognize it’s not all, you’re lucky or unlucky, it’s all a negative or a positive, that it’s a complicated story in the brain. And we have trillions of neurons and billions of connections to those neurons and brains are uniquely individual. And they come with the yes, some weaknesses, the potential for difficulties, but also strengths and the potential for great success. And it’s really all how you play to your strengths and shore up your weaknesses that ultimately determine your path in life.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (36:10)

What a hopeful message. I know a lot of times when we have things like OCD, ADHD, we think we’re broken and we won’t be successful in life. And it’s amazing to hear an expert like yourself say that that really isn’t the case. If you play to your strengths and recognize them.

Dr. Gail Saltz: (36:25)

Yep. That’s a really, an old fashioned model. And you look around and huge numbers of CEOs have ADHD because they’re uniquely creative and innovative and original, and that’s part of the same wiring in the default network that causes them to have some of the symptoms of ADHD.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (36:47)

And this is in your book, The Power of Different?

Dr. Gail Saltz: (36:50)

Yep. Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (36:53)

Perfect. And if our listeners want to buy that book, where do they go?

Dr. Gail Saltz: (36:59)

It’s pretty much, it’s Amazon, wherever your books are sold, you’ll probably find it. And if your listeners have a question, a mental health question, they can send me questions actually, which I literally answer on the How Can I Help podcast. So if they want to email me at, it’s a leadership organization that I’m partnering with to, part of the reason for that is that women suffer clinical depression and anxiety disorders twice as often as men. And so, particularly looking at women’s mental health has been, I think, is very important. And so if they, if, but if anybody, male or female, has a question, they can email me and I will answer on the podcast.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (37:48)

Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for being with us today. I sure appreciate it.

Dr. Gail Saltz: (37:53)

Thanks so much for having me.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (37:55)

Please subscribe to this podcast if you like the content and are interested in learning more about how to live proactively. Leave a review and thanks again to our listeners. This is Dr. Dan signing off.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (38:26)

The information presented by guests in this podcast is their sole opinion and in no way represents the views of Discover With Dr. Dan | The Proactive Health Podcast or Brilliant. This podcast is for informational purposes only and does not replace professional medical care. Please consult with your medical doctor before making any changes in your lifestyle.

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