The practice of law is extremely demanding. It pervades almost all aspects of a lawyer’s life, placing heavy and constant demands on individuals within the industry. While many lawyers likely expected a fast-moving and high-pressured career when accepting their first legal job, far fewer are likely to have known that they were entering a profession topping the league tables for loneliness, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, stress and suicide.
Although the issue is seldom discussed, many lawyers battle mental health concerns every day, often as a direct result of career-driven pressures. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine by Patrick R. Krill, Ryan Johnson and Linda Albert surveyed almost 13,000 licensed, employed attorneys across 19 states and found that lawyers suffer from “problematic drinking that is hazardous, harmful or otherwise generally consistent with alcohol use disorders at a much higher rate [20.6 percent] than other populations.” The study also found that attorneys suffer from severe levels of depression (28 percent of all lawyers surveyed), anxiety (19 percent) and stress (23 percent) when compared with other workforces, in addition to suffering from social anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, panic disorder, bipolar disorder, suicidal thoughts, self-injurious behaviors and suicidal attempts.
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