Iowa Lawyers Assistance Program


Everyone occasionally feels blue, down, or sad. But those feelings are short-lived and pass within a couple of days. When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those you care about.

People with depressive illnesses do not all experience the same symptoms. The severity, frequency, and duration of symptoms vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness. Some signs and symptoms include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or empty feelings
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once found pleasurable
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment


One-third of lawyers and judges suffer from depression, which is the number one cause of suicide. Lawyers and judges have the highest suicide rate of any profession, six times the rate of the general population. Lawyers and judges are twice as likely as the general population to develop problems with substance abuse and other addictive disorders.

Out of 105 professions studied by Johns Hopkins University, lawyers and judges top the list in the incidence of major depression.

Research suggests that those who suffer from intense perfectionism are at higher risk for suicide. They are driven by an intense need to avoid failure. Sound like any lawyers you know?

If you have depression, you may feel exhausted, helpless, and hopeless. It may be extremely difficult to take any action to help yourself. The disease of depression is treatable so do not wait too long to get treatment. There is some research showing the longer one waits, the greater the impairment can be down the road.

If you or another lawyer, judge, law student or family member is experiencing symptoms of depression, contact the ILAP. All calls to ILAP are confidential and you can call anonymously if you prefer.

Related Resources

Depression, the Secret we Share by Andrew Solomon
Word Health Organization: I had a black dog, his name was depression

Self-Assessment Tests:
Depression Screening Test

Related Web Links:
Depression – NIMH
Depression – Psych Central
Families For Depression Awareness
Lawyers with Depression
Mayo Clinic- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Mayo Clinic – Postpartum Depression