What is Depression?
Depression is the most common mental health concern, affecting 10% of the general population. Although everyone feels down or blue at some point, depression is different. It occurs when those feelings last longer than two weeks. Depression interferes with daily life and normal functioning. No one is immune from depression, although women are diagnosed with depression more often than men. The good news is that depression is treatable, and resources exist to help individuals experiencing depression.
Symptoms of Depression
- Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" feelings
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
- Insomnia, early–morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Overeating, or appetite loss
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
Treatment of Depression
Depression is treatable. A doctor or other mental health professional will determine the most appropriate form of treatment, which may include psychotherapy (talk therapy) or medication. Treatment is most effective when sought early, but the vast majority of individuals, even those with severe depression, benefit from treatment.
How Depression Affects Lawyers
Some studies suggest that lawyers experience depression at higher rates than the general population. While there’s no way to determine exactly why this occurs, demanding schedules and other stresses inherent in the practice of law may contribute to higher rates of depression.
Lawyer assistance programs (LAPs) are here to support lawyers, judges, students and other legal professionals who suffer from depression. Contact your state or local LAP.
How to Help a Colleague Who is Depressed
If you believe a colleague may have depression, encourage him/her to seek help. Contact a LAP for additional support and resources.