Your first question might be whether there really is a problem. Start with the warning signs below and you can have our help from there. Our clinicians can help anyone -- a colleague, family member, or friend -- who…
REVIEW OF FINDINGS:
LCL SURVEY ON DEPRESSION IN LAWYERS, 2018
With the recent publication of our ABA book, The Full Weight of the Law: How Legal Professionals Can Recognize and Rebound from Depression, co-author Shawn Healy and I were invited to make a presentation on depression in lawyers at the 2018 National Conference for Lawyer Assistance Programs in September 2018.
Are you about to start law school? Congratulations . . . You have probably heard at least a few horror stories about the stress, the dropout rate, the prevalence of depression, the high student loans, the competition, the high rates of substance use, and how law school is either like military boot camp, the Hunger Games, or the battle between Gandalf and the Balrog. Challenges shape us, and law school is a life changing experience. Needless to say, it is best to have some helpful strategies at the ready, even before it seems they are necessary.
We all feel fluctuations in our moods (from elation to deep sadness). Some people feel this range of emotions to a lesser degree (find it hard to feel intense emotions) while others feel it to a greater degree (find it hard not to feel intense emotions). A common question we get is, “How can you tell the difference between a low mood and something more serious like depression?”.
The stats are alarming which indicate that before entering law school a student is just as likely to have experienced depression as any other adult in the general population (which is about 7%). After one year of law school, 32% of law students experience depression. It keeps rising to 40% by the end of the third year. So what is it about law school, and in particular the first year of law school that is so stressful to law students? While there are many sources of stress in the first year of law school, two particular stressors stick out as significant for many students: the Imposter Syndrome and the Socratic Method.
Much research has been conducted to examine the effects of meditation from reducing anxiety, increasing attention, and slowing down the aging process on your brain. In a nutshell, meditation can be an effective practice. And while meditation might not be recommended for everyone, the usefulness of meditation can be wide reaching. So, let’s assume that you have read a meta-analysis on the effectiveness of meditation programs and decided that meditation might be helpful to you in your management of anxiety, stress, attention, and so on. Now what?
Lawyers are not unique in their struggle to prioritize their health and well-being. Many in the helping professions focus on those they aim to help at the cost of neglecting their own needs. It takes time and effort to learn how to prioritize one’s own well-being as an essential element in being an effective helping to others. For those looking for reasons to avoid addressing issues with their own well-being, lawyers can turn to their legal training to help provide justification for their avoidance of self-care.
A random act of kindness is a kind gesture offered without solicitation to someone who has a need. National Random Acts of Kindness week this year falls between February 11th and 17th. Not that kindness should ever be confined to one week, but this week is an opportunity to do a deeper dive into the benefits of acts of kindness, be creative about ways to spread kindness, and start a pattern of engaging in random acts of kindness throughout the year. Random acts of kindness, or “RAKs” for all of you cool kids out there, are one of the few social interactions that create a reinforcing cycle of positivity on the one offering kindness, the one receiving kindness, and anyone observing that kindness.
The change in the season means many different things to different people. When the season changes from autumn to winter (at least in regions where there is distinct variation between seasons), some people are excited about the holidays, winter fashion, and outdoor winter activities (think of your friendly neighborhood skiers, snowboarders, Santa impersonators). For others, the change in season is met with dread (lower amounts of energy, mood fluctuations, pessimism). While many people are negatively impacted by the colder seasons, there is a percentage of individuals who are affected to a significant degree, those who meet the criteria for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD occurs when the change of season produces depressed mood, low energy, irritability, change in sleep patterns, change in appetite, diminished concentration, and low motivation.