FYI: A Helpful Webinar for Depressed Lawyers

Lawyers with DepressionToday, we’re pleased to welcome Dan Lukasik, founder of Lawyers with Depression, to the blog to talk about a very important topic: depression in the legal profession.

Without further ado, here’s Dan!

Are You a Lawyer Who Has Problems Getting Things Done When Depressed?

If you’re a lawyer that struggles with depression, you’re not alone. Studies show that lawyers suffer from depression at a rate twice (20%) that of the general population. When put in perspective, that means that 240,000 of this country’s 1.2 million lawyers are struggling with depression right now.

These findings are not about sadness, the blues or even burnout, but true clinical depression. According to the Mayo Clinic, to be diagnosed with major depression by a health care professional you need to have some of the following symptoms most of the day, every day:

  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness or unhappiness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, such as sex
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness or lack of energy, so that even small tasks take extra effort
  • Changes in appetite where you either don’t want to eat and lose weight or have increased cravings for food and gain weight
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness that may include excessive worrying, pacing, hand wringing or an inability to sit still.
Why is it so hard to get things done why you’re depressed?

Research has shown that people with depression have trouble getting motivated and being organized and productive because of their negative thinking styles and the changes that occur in their brain’s neurochemistry that deplete their ability to concentrate, feel pleasure and enjoy a sense of accomplishment.

According to professor Martin Seligman, Ph.D., these problems are compounded with lawyers. In a blog he wrote for my website, “Why Are Lawyers So Unhappy,” he writes:

“Pessimism is seen as a plus among lawyers, because seeing troubles as pervasive and permanent is a component of what the law profession deems prudence. A prudent perspective enables a good lawyer to see every conceivable snare and catastrophe that might occur in any transaction. The ability to anticipate the whole range of problems and betrayals that non-lawyers are blind to is highly adaptive for the practicing lawyer who can, by so doing, help his clients defend against these far-fetched eventualities. If you don’t have this prudence to begin with, law school will seek to teach it to you. Unfortunately, though, a trait that makes you good at your profession does not always make you a happy human being.”

Interestingly, 60% of all people with depression also suffer struggle with anxiety. In fact, Richard O’Connor, Ph.D., author of the best-selling books “Undoing Depression” and “Undoing Perpetual Stress” opines, “depression is stress that has gone on too long.” Recent scientific studies have confirmed the powerful link between stress, anxiety, and depression in the brain.

We need to counter negative depression habits and replace them with more constructive, positive, and productive ones.

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Thanks, Dan, for sharing this important information with everyone!

About Me
I am a 1988 graduate of the University at Buffalo School of Law in Buffalo, New York and a managing partner at the law firm of Bernhardi Lukasik PLLC in Buffalo where I litigate cases in state and federal courts across the state. I am listed in the publications The Best Lawyers in America and SuperLawyers.

In 2008 I created, the first website and blog of its kind in the country, to help law students, lawyers and judges cope with and heal from anxiety and depression. The site and my work have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, The National Law, Trial Magazine and several other national and international publications.

For my work, I am a recipient of “The Merit Award” from the New York State Bar Association, “The Distinguished Alumni Award for Public Service” from The University at Buffalo School of Law and “The Award of Merit” from the Erie County Bar Association. I am the Executive Producer of the documentary, A Terrible Melancholy: Depression in the Legal Profession and am currently writing a book about depression in the law for the American Bar Association.

In 2007, I created “The Committee to Assist Lawyers with Depression in Erie County” which puts on CLE programs on stress, anxiety and depression for my bar community. I created a weekly support group for lawyers with depression in 2008, which meets on a weekly basis where lawyers share their stories and find support. I speak around the country to law students, lawyers, judges and mental health organizations about depression and its impact on the legal profession.

Read On:

A few posts about the mental aspects of law school which might be of interest:

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