Depression can happen to anyone. It is a condition that can occur gradually, as a response to life trauma or inability to cope with stresses. It can also occur suddenly, after a major loss or struggles at work or in a relationship. As therapists for depression in NYC, we know that there is no “type” of person that may struggle with depression.
Yet the data does show that lawyers experience depression more so than nearly any other profession. As many as 28% of lawyers show signs of depression – more than 1 in 4, a 400% increased risk compared to the general population – and many others experience work stress and anxiety that could lead to depression someday.
The data is clear: lawyers have a higher rate of depression than almost every other career. Understanding why this may occur is one of the first steps toward addressing it.
Risk Factors for Depression in Lawyers
Because depression can happen to anyone, there is not necessarily a single reason that attorneys may be more prone to depression, or a single cause that can be identified in order to address it. But there are many factors that are likely at play, and any combination of these can be a contributor.
- Binary Success – One reason that lawyers can struggle with depression is because the career itself is based on binary success. You either win, or you lose, with rarely much middle ground in between. You’re constantly in competition with someone else, and – depending on your specialty – someone’s money, health, or life may be directly tied to you winning. Even the best lawyers lose cases, and that can hit people very hard.
- Peer Competition – Similarly, many lawyers feel in constant competition with their peers. Not only is that true in the courtroom, where you are tasked with trying to “beat” someone as part of your role, but also those that are trying to grow their practice are in competition for clients and revenue. Those comparisons and that competition can lead to a considerable amount of stress.
- Financial Concerns – Though not true of every specialty, most lawyers receive payment at seemly random times, going for months – or sometimes years – before getting paid for a case that you’ve been working on. That inconsistency means a lot of challenging times financially, navigating banks and debt to pay your staff before hoping that you receive payment on time.
- Lack of Sleep – Sleep is critical to our mental health. Many lawyers struggle with sleep, either because they’re working too late at night or they are heavily focused on their cases and struggling with insomnia. No matter the cause, a lack of sleep makes people more prone to depression.
- Lawyer Characteristics – The same strengths that draw people to the legal profession may also make them more prone to depression. For example, “perfectionism” is a common quality of those drawn to law, and perfectionism is considered a risk factor for depression. This would mean that there may be some self-selection involved in why lawyers experience depression.
These are only some of the many reasons that lawyers may be more prone to depression. Drug and alcohol abuse and relationship issues are also more common among lawyers, both of which also put people at greater risk of depression.
The Challenges of New York City
Lawyers all over the United States are going to be more likely to have depression based on that factors outlined above. But we are in NYC, and here in NYC, these same pressures are multiplied considerably. Manhattan and Brooklyn are home to some of the most “high powered” lawyers in the entire world, and that means that attorneys here face tough legal battles, bigger stakes, and even more pressure to compete and succeed in this environment.
Depression Therapists for Lawyers in NYC
Flourish Psychology has a team of carefully selected NYC therapists led by Dr. Sadi Fox. Our private practice recognizes your unique experience as an individual, and seeks to use the best possible treatments to support a recovery that is sustainable and actionable for your long term mental health. Contact Flourish Psychology today to schedule an appointment.