As an attorney, your profession is often a point of pride. Building a legal career takes many years of education and long hours of work. Skillful attorneys are dedicated, exceptionally intelligent, and motivated in the extreme. While a career in the legal profession can be rewarding, it can also contribute to a great deal of mental and emotional stress. Work-related pressure contributes to overall health problems, such as heart disease and depression. In fact, among any profession, attorneys have the number one incidence of depression. There is a high rate of alcoholism and dependency among lawyers and, unfortunately, a higher than average suicide rate.
Mental health issues are often something that people are embarrassed about and reticent to admit. Because there’s such a stigma surrounding depression and dependency, many people don’t seek the information and help they need. For attorneys specifically, it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms and take active steps to treat depression and other emotional issues as early as possible.
Reasons Attorneys Are More At Risk
- Type A Personality. Common in attorneys, “Type A” personalities are exceptionally motivated and often perfectionists. Even lawyers who may not have been naturally rigid in this way will develop these traits because they’re often necessary to succeed in this highly competitive field. While this type of personality can help people succeed, it also adds a lot of self-inflicted stress and pressure. Pushing oneself constantly puts a strain on both the body and mind.
- Relationship Issues. Attorneys have a precarious ethical responsibility to always serve their client to the best of their ability, which can at times mean that they have to act in ways that may upset their own conscience. Not only is it a question of a client’s needs, but there is a very real pressure on winning no matter the cost. Most lawyers develop highly effective persuasive skills, which are fantastic qualities for an attorney but can be detrimental to personal relationships when these skills bleed over into private lives.
- Hours and Stress. Attorneys work exceptionally long weeks, often 60 hours or more. Personal time is taken up with career concerns, and many attorneys take a great deal of work home with them, making family and social relationships further strained and blurring the line between professional and personal life.
- Lack of Professional Contentment. For attorneys specifically, the career path can be far different from the one first envisioned in law school. Much of the actual day-to-day work is far less stimulating than the things that attract most attorneys to the field. Many attorneys find themselves less than satisfied in the profession but unable to find a way to either change their career path or find excitement for their current position.
Finding Wellness and Maintaining Contentment
Because it’s known that attorneys are more prone to these issues, it is important to recognize the warning signs and seek treatment promptly. Whether that treatment is a matter of managing depression or finding tools to overcome substance abuse, the key is in addressing issues before they become life-altering.
It’s time to proactively protect your wellness. Visit The Florida Bar Member Benefits Insurance Programs today to learn more about available health insurance policies that may cover mental health and other wellness or preventative care. The Florida Bar also provides assistance and resources on their website for lawyers struggling with life’s difficulties.