“What makes for a good lawyer, may make for an unhappy human being.” – Martin Seligman, Psychologist
There are various issues that affect the legal community: obesity, alcoholism, suicide, substance abuse, etc. There are also many reasons and speculations as to why these negative matters are so prominent. It is likely that existence of these negative issues are not simply because one or two reasons, but due to a combination of causes. One of the reasons that is, at least to some extent, prevalent for every one of these occurrences is depression.
Some symptoms of depression include:
– Loss of interest in many activities
– Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
– Significant weight gain or loss
– Feelings of worthlessness
– Thoughts of suicide
– Drinking too much
Depression is a very common mental health disorder that is characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life. Depression can be caused due to a combination of biological, psychological and social source of distress. It also affects members of the legal community in a large margin. According to research, depression among law students is 8-9% prior to enrollment, 27% after one semester, 34% after 2 semesters, and 40% after 3 years. The prevalence of stress among law students is also at a mind-bogglingly 96% compared to 70% in med students and 43% in graduate students. Mitigating the negative effects of depression that disproportionately affects lawyers and law students should be one of the biggest priorities.
The law field may come with more stress, pressure, and difficulties than many other professions. Stress is also definitely a significant variable that can lead to depression. The prevalence of depression among lawyers has been noticed as a problem for a long time. The frightening statistics behind the increasing rates of depression among law students the longer they are in school is a problem that should be addressed. There should be more research as to why med students and graduate students are feeling less stress compared to law students, and law schools should modify their approach to be more cognizant of depression and stress-levels among law students.