Dr. Gregory Jantz talks on Mental Health

Dr. Gregory Jantz Interview

Psychologist, Dr. Gregory Jantz PhD, is the author of the new book, "Overcoming Anxiety, Worry and Fear: Practical Ways To Find Peace" and is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Therapist who treats depression, anxiety, PTSD and more, at his mental health treatment center in Seattle, USA.

Question: Do you believe happiness is often tied to money? If so, why?

Dr. Gregory Jantz: No, I don't believe happiness is tied to money though I believe that money makes it available for us to not have distractions and stress. Money doesn't necessarily equate to happiness.

Question: Does unemployment often trigger suicidal thoughts?

Dr. Gregory Jantz: Oh Yes. One of the things we found, particularly among men who were unemployed for greater than a year and then they evolved addictive behaviours such as alcohol or drugs, increased their probability of deep depression. The deeper the depression the more despair there is. Of course what happens with deep depression is that they see no other option than suicide because they see no other way out.

Question: What is the number one thing people worry about most in an economic downturn?

Dr. Gregory Jantz: People get into what I call 'the What If Syndrome'. The What If Syndrome is when people start thinking: What if things get worse? What if things don't change? These questions begin to create a lot of worry and with that worry they create a lot of fear.

Question: To have suicidal thoughts, does that directly relate to having a mental illness?

Dr. Gregory Jantz: No, it's not; although if a person has developed an addiction and various other unhealthy coping mechanisms they are often not thinking in reality and they create their own non-reality.

Question: How do you know if a friend or family member is in trouble?

Dr. Gregory Jantz: Here are a couple of things to look at:
If there has been complicated multiple losses - not only a loss of job but maybe a loss of home or family member.
If you see there is more and more isolation from people - that's big one.
If you see a radical change in sleep patterns such as sleeping too much or constantly not sleeping.
If we see increased addiction that could even include prescription drug addiction .
Another factor that we might see is that a person is acting radical or showing desperate behaviour such as spending their last $5 on a lotto ticket believing that it will save them.

Question: What can friends and families do if they believe someone is having suicidal thoughts?

Dr. Gregory Jantz: I think one of the things we need to do, to help is to be very alert to changes in behaviour and emotion but we also want to really allow a person to share their feelings. It's important that a person has a safe place to talk and sometimes it needs to be a non-family member, truly there are times were a person needs professional intervention in their lives. When we are in a place of desperation, typically the last people we listen to is our family - we need some help outside of our family.

Question: How can we prevent economy-related suicide?

Dr. Gregory Jantz: First of all if you have suicide thoughts you need to remember that it's normal and you may have these thoughts. We also need to draw a line that says 'I am not going to allow myself to become irrational' and 'I'm not going to allow myself to make rash or drastic decisions' and 'When I start to step over to the side of depression, I am going to make an agreement with myself that I have a support system, in place. I have to build my team, with family and friends, before I ever allow myself to get that far away.'

Question: Does anxiety relate to suicidal thoughts?

Dr. Gregory Jantz: Yes, when anxiety peak so high and an example is panic attacks were we're not able to think with any sort of rationality, we may do drastic things to bring down that anxiety. It is interesting how fear fuels itself and so high anxiety (I can't think clearly and I loose my rational thought ability and I don't see options in my situation) often fuels people to take their lives or have suicidal thoughts.

Question: Can you provide practical ways to find peace?

Dr. Gregory Jantz: We need to have people around us who love and care about us, having that support network in place is important because when we are experiencing anxiety we are not thinking clearly ourselves.

Interview by Brooke Hunter

If you are having suicidal thoughts or need help dealing with someone that is, call Lifeline's 24 hour crisis line on 13 11 14 for support or visit www.lifeline.org.au