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|Clinicians Digest July/Aug 2008 - Page 8|
Like most other professions, therapy is feeling the economic downturn. One new source of income may be getting lawyers as clients. A 1991 study by Johns Hopkins University found that attorneys were more likely to be depressed than any other professionals or blue collar workers. Unfortunately, they don't readily seek treatment, so it takes creativity to reach them.
Start by learning something about the particular pressures and demands on lawyers. A good place to find out is www.lawyerswithdepression.
Lukasik thinks the high incidence of depression has something to do with how lawyers are trained. Anticipating everything that can go wrong and preparing for attacks and counterattacks, he says, promotes pessimism. Although researchers are still debating which comes first, pessimistic thinking or depression, there's no doubt that, together, they create a negative synergy.
Others point to the pressure for billable hours, the fierce competition within law firms, and the high stakes for clients and for one's own professional reputation in many cases. Also, law schools seem to turn out depressed students. Studies find that while only about 3 percent of students enter law school depressed, about 30 percent graduate depressed. This may result from the stressful teaching atmosphere or the pressure on seniors to find jobs that pay well enough to offset their staggering student loans.
Many of these pressures are similar to those facing physicians—another profession known for high incidences of depression, though Lukasik believes that lawyers have it worse. "At least when physicians are doing surgery," he says, "no fellow physician's trying to undo their sutures." Lukasik invites therapists to submit articles about depression to his website. Therapists who want to learn more about depression among lawyers will find an extensive resource list there.
Digital Connection: For more perspective on the digital generation, see www.marcprensky.com.
Violent Couples: Journal of Family Psychology 22, no. 1 (February 2008): 102-11.