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Depression spikes as lawyers struggle in downturn

Depression spikes as lawyers struggle in downturn

An increased number of law practitioners in Australia and overseas are suffering from depression as pressures of the global financial crisis affect their industry.

AN increased number of law practitioners in Australia and overseas are suffering from depression as pressures of the global financial crisis affect their industry. 

Dr Ian Chung, a Sydney Doctor who works with LawCare, the counselling service operated by the NSW Law Society, said he has witnessed an increased number of lawyers coming to LawCare in the past month than in the previous months. 

“Based on anecdotal evidence it would appear there has been increased pressure put on the profession by the global financial crisis,” Dr Chung said. 

“The culture and work style that is required in law are fuel for depression. Lawyers have to meet pressures such as deadlines and budgets. Overall it’s a fairly negative profession.” 

In the USA, the Illinois Lawyers' Assistance Program had its busiest month on record in April, The National Law Journal reports.  The organisation, which helps attorneys deal with depression and substance abuse, last month had close to twice the monthly average of referrals for 2008. 

Across the US, demand for lawyer assistance programs grows as the economy continues to struggle. Laid-off attorneys, struggling solo practitioners, and third-year law students without jobs lined up have been reaching out for help more than ever before, while lawyers who already had emotional problems or addictions are being pushed over the edge by the added stress of the slow economy and its ramifications, they said.

A study conducted by Beyond Blue and Beaton Consulting last year found that 15.2 per cent of the lawyers surveyed suffer moderate to severe depression. 

Dr Chung said based on the recent increase in the number of lawyers looking for assistance that number would most likely be higher, although he declined to suggest just how high it could be. 

Common indications that someone is experiencing depression were anger, irritability, stress, relationship problems and mood swings said Dr Chung. 

If you or someone close to you is experiencing any of these symptoms contact LawCare or another professional assistance outlet such as Beyond Blue for details on assistance. 

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