Friday, May 9, 2008

Lawyers Suffer the Highest Rate of Depression

The California Bar Journal recently published an article, written by Diane Curtis, on the correlation between the practice of law and depression. A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University found that lawyers suffer the highest rate of depression- 19% of lawyers suffer from depression, where only 3-9% of the general population suffers from depression.

The article mentions the "telltale signs" of depression among attorneys, as noted by a member of the Lawyer Assistance Program of the California State Bar. These signs are generally fatigue, low energy and a sense of being overwhelmed. He interestingly enough calls this depression a "creeping paralysis".

So why is it, then, that so many lawyers suffer depression? One would assume that lawyers would feel pride and a sense of accomplishment. I believe that this sense of pride is exactly what may trigger depression for some attorneys. We struggle so hard to achieve heights in our career with minimal rewards. The article calls the profession of law a "lonely profession" due to the adversarial nature of the work.

Perhaps we need to change the nature of our practice. Perhaps we need to look into the way we practice and figure out what makes us happy. I've met plenty of people who are dissatisfied with the profession of law and I've also met plenty of people who are very satisfied with their career choice. I've noticed that the ones who are more satisfied are ones who have work-life balance and mostly, ones who run their own practices.

So, how do we acheive career satisfaction?

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