The legal profession is known for being demanding and stressful.
Long hours, high stakes, and a competitive environment can all take a toll on lawyers’ mental health.
In fact, studies have shown that lawyers are more likely to suffer from depression than the general population.
It’s important to note that attorneys are engaging in a career that comes with long hours and elevated levels of stress.
Plus, this field is fiercely competitive, which further adds pressure and stress on them.
You should also know that lawyers are also exposed to emotionally charged and challenging situations sometimes daily, which can become traumatic for them.
Believe it or not, there’s a lack of support for lawyers as they just don’t get the kind of support other professionals receive to get help to cope with stress, depression, and trauma.
All the above can result in depression.
Are lawyers depressed?
In this article, we will explore the reasons why lawyers are so prone to depression.
We will also discuss the signs and symptoms of lawyer depression, and some resources available to help lawyers who are struggling.
- Data shows that 28% of lawyers have suffered from depression.
- Lawyers are 22% more apt to consider suicide.
- 20% of female lawyers experience severe depression compared to 15% of male lawyers.
- Younger lawyers are most impacted by depression.
- Criminal lawyers are more apt to develop PTSD.
- 25% of law students carry more risk of falling victim to alcoholism.
- 17% of students wanting to become lawyers suffer from depression.
- 19% of lawyers suffer from severe anxiety.
- 37% of students of law say they have mild to severe anxiety.
- 11.4% of lawyers have had suicidal thoughts.
- 6% of students in law school say they have had suicidal thoughts.
Lawyer Depression Statistics: Are Lawyers Depressed?
Depression can happen to anyone at any time and is dependent upon several factors in their personal and work life.
Lawyers are at double the risk of other professions in terms of developing depression.
Our research uncovered that 28% of lawyers from one survey said they have experienced mild to severe depression.
Younger lawyers tend to be the most affected by depression and its side effects such as falling into alcoholism, substance abuse, and serious mental health problems.
Much of this is believed to be due to lack of experience and from being new to the career.
That’s not to say older and more experienced lawyers don’t, it’s just not as common as in the younger set.
In terms of gender, 20% women in the lawyering profession admit to experiencing severe depression compared to 15% of male lawyers who admit the same.
Overall, lawyer depression can result in further problems which have been researched.
The findings concluded that out of those surveyed or studied, 22% of lawyers are more likely to think about suicide as an option.
Moreover, 19% of lawyers also have severe anxiety and 11.4% have suicidal thoughts.
Criminal lawyers are more apt to develop PTSD, and family lawyers are exposed to many challenging issues that result in depression more often than other lawyers.
So, these statistics tell us the field of legal specialty can and does affect how depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health disorders impact them.
Law students also experience levels of depression and anxiety that result in substance abuse, alcoholism, and mental disorders.
In fact, 25% of law students are at higher risk of developing alcoholism, 17% are more apt to suffer from depression, and 37% claim to suffer from mild to severe anxiety.
Likewise, 6% of law students claimed to have suicidal thoughts.
(ABA Legal Profile, ABA News, Reuters, Sage Journals)
Why Are Lawyers More Apt to Become Depressed than the General Population?
We already have the data that shows how lawyers work long hours and are exposed to extremely traumatic situations at times.
However, what are some of the factors that contribute to the high rates of depression among lawyers?
After our research, this is what we discovered.
- Long hours and High Stress: Lawyers usually work longer hours than many other professions, and their work can be incredibly stressful. These factors can result in burnout, contributing to depression.
- Competition: The legal profession is a fiercely competitive sector, which often creates a lot of pressure, especially among younger lawyers. This pressure can result in anxiety and depression.
- Occupational Threats: Lawyers are commonly exposed to highly challenging and emotionally charged situations and are sometimes threatened in these situations. This can be traumatic enough to result in some level of depression.
- Lack of Support: Lawyers don’t usually have the same level of support as most other professions. This can make things more difficult for them in terms of finding ways to cope with stress and depression.
What Are Some Signs and Symptoms of Lawyer Depression?
Lawyer depression presents in the same ways depression shows up in everyone else.
They are human beings after all.
However, you still need to know these signs and symptoms in order to recognize them if you know a lawyer who may be struggling with depression.
These signs and symptoms include:
- Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed.
- Appetite and sleep changes.
- Feeling very fatigued, tired, or having low energy levels.
- Trouble with concentration, focus, and decision making.
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
Please take note and be aware of these signs and symptoms in your loved one or friend who is a lawyer as you would with any friend in any profession.
Being a lawyer doesn’t automatically give someone superpowers that make them stronger, faster, or better than anyone else.
Think about them as human beings with problems just like you.
If you’re a lawyer struggling with depression, there are valuable resources out there for you.
You can start by talking to your doctor, a therapist, or ask about a lawyer assistance program.
You can also find many online resources that can provide support and information.
It’s crucial to remember that you’re not alone. Depression is treatable and there is plenty of help available for the asking.
We urge you to reach out for help if you are struggling with depression, or even think you may be depressed.
If you know a lawyer suffering with depression, or if you are a lawyer suffering with depression, you can seek help by contacting the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) hotline at: 1-800-662-4357 (HELP) 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for support and resources.