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Lawyers (Are) (Are Not) More Depressed

Masks In a 2005 guest post on Evan Schaeffer's Legal Underground, Raymond P. Ward wrote that lawyers are more prone to depression than members of any other profession. A few months later, Geoffrey G. Gussis echoed this at his InHouseBlog, saying that lawyers have three times the rate of depression as the general public. Ward's post cited a Johns Hopkins study that said that of 28 occupations, lawyers were the most likely to suffer depression. He also noted a Washington study that found that 19 percent of lawyers were depressed and a North Carolina study that found symptoms of depression among more than a quarter of lawyers. More recently, Carolyn Elefant noted here at Legal Blog Watch that an Australian study had found lawyers to be the most depressed of professionals Down Under. A Buffalo lawyer, Dan Lukasik, has founded a Web site devoted to this issue, Lawyers with Depression. The podcast I co-host, Lawyer2Lawyer, looked at this issue in July, with Lukasik as one of our guests.

Now, in the face of all that, along comes a study that says lawyers are not so depressed after all. Martha Neil of the ABA Journal points to a report published this week by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health that looks at depression by occupational category. Lawyers are way down at No. 11 on the list, tied with movers and just below salespeople. The people with the greatest incidence of depression, this study says, work in the personal care industry and the food preparation industry. Even entertainers and athletes have more depression than lawyers, says NSDUH.

This study focused on occurrences of major depressive episodes, not milder symptoms, which may account for its divergent findings concerning lawyers. It reports that 6.4 percent of lawyers had such an episode in the past year, with the incidents higher among female lawyers than male (8.2 percent for women and 4.6 percent for men).

If, even with this latest study, you aspire to leave law in favor of a less-depressing occupation, the  professionals who report the fewest incidents of major depression are engineers, architects and surveyors.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on October 18, 2007 at 03:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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