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Lawyers and depression: a year later

About a year ago, I wrote a guest post for Evan Schaeffer's Legal Underground, titled Depression: The Lawyers' Epidemic. In it, I tried to convey three thoughts:

  1. The incidence of depression among lawyers is higher than among any other profession.
  2. The reason for this may be that law school and the legal profession attract the kinds of people who are prone to depression.
  3. Lawyers should know the symptoms of depression, to recognize whether they or their colleagues need help.

That guest post apparently hit a nerve; it generated nine trackbacks and 25 comments. Prompted by the most recent comment, Evan wrote a follow-up post yesterday that's worth reading.

Today, I fear that depression still carries a stigma among lawyers, as if the sufferer should be fitted for a straitjacket. This isn't good. The stigma can discourage a sufferer to acknowledge the problem and get help. A lawyer with untreated depression is going to be impaired, thus prone to committing legal malpractice. Worse, untreated depression creates a greater risk of suicide.

Whether or not each of us has this disease, each of us should understand it. It's an illness, not a character defect. We should have the same attitude toward it that we have toward any other illness. We should be aware of its symptoms, and anyone showing the symptoms should be encouraged to get medical help.



One should not overlook depression's younger brother, dysthymia. It plagues many a lawyer, too.


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