"A study published last month in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epistemology suggests that some jobs [with legal services being on the list] have much higher rates of depression than others." - Joe Pinsker, "Which Jobs Have the Highest Rates of Depression," in The Atlantic, December 22, 2014. Here is that article.
The study looked at data derived from 214,000 residents of western Pennsylvania. The objective was to calculate the incidence of clinical depression in 55 industries.
The highest rates, beginning with the most cases, are:
- Public transit
- Real estate
- Social work
- Personal services
- Legal services
The least? Those include recreational services, highway construction, coal mining, metallurgy and air travel.
Over and over again both mental health experts and laypeople have opined why those in the legal field experience more than the average bouts of clinical depression.
Some posit that it is the adversarial nature of litigation. There are winners and losers. That could lessen as mediation and arbitration replace costly litigation in this era of e-discovery.
Then there is the theory that lawyers have such little control over what they do. The "masters" are the nature of the law itself, judges, juries, superiors, the movements of opposing counsel, and clients.
Also, it has been pointed out that most of the practice of law involves the darkness of human nature. That ranges from greed which results in embezzlement to destructive substance abuse which can land the client in prison.
Probably the most convincing explanation is that driven, ambitious people enter the field. No matter how much they achieve, they will probably perceive that they are falling short. After all, they likely will never achieve the status or earning power of a Ted Olson (who won for Bush with SCOTUS and whose hourly could eventually hit $2,000).
In my conversations with therapists who have professional clients, I found out that one key reason for entering therapy is the despair about not having gotten further in their fields. They sense something psychological is blocking them and want that exorcised. Or, it could be that they seek out help to prevent jumping off a high rise.
During this season of high spirits, those on an emotional downward trajectory should avoid isolation. As the saying goes, when they are alone with their thoughts they are playing in a bad neighborhood.
A life-saving measure can be to duck into a 12-step meeting, listen, and maybe share. They include Emotional Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Co-Dependents Anonymous, Parents Anonymous, Over-eaters Anonymous, and Spenders Anonymous. Just key in the name of the group and the city. A meeting list probably will pop up.
Last Saturday was horrific. My 40-something nex-door neighbor wound up on life support. Finally, his life had been coming together, including paying down educational loans. I swung by a 12-step meeting in Tuscon, Arizona. Someone needed a ride back home. Navigating the traffic, jam-packed with snowbirds, distracted me from myself.