Mental/Emotional Health

One in four lawyers suffers from elevated feelings of psychological distress, including feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, anxiety, social alienation, isolation and depression.

While 3 percent to 9 percent of the population at any given time may experience depression, a quality-of-life survey conducted by the North Carolina Bar Association in 2003 reported that almost 24 percent of the bar's members exhibited symptoms of clinical depression. Almost 11 percent of them said they contemplated suicide at least once each month.

 In 1991, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore interviewed 12,000 workers about depression. Lawyers ranked No. 1 (emphasis added) among professionals that were most depressed.

Depression is a serious medical illness; it's not something that you have made up in your head. It's more than just feeling "down in the dumps" or "blue" for a few days. It's feeling "down" and "low" and "hopeless" for weeks at a time. 

      - National Institutes of Mental Health

It involves the body, mood, and thoughts. It affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things.

      - National Institutes of Mental Health

Signs & Symptoms of Depression

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

Depression - A Self-Test

If you or someone you care about answers yes to five or more of these questions and if the symptoms described have been present nearly every day for 2 weeks or more, you should consider speaking to a health care professional about different treatment options for depression.


Answer these questions Yes No

Do you or they feel a deep sense of depression, sadness, or hopelessness most of the day?


Have you or they experienced diminished interest in most or all activities?


Have you or they experienced significant appetite or weight change when not dieting?


Have you or they experienced a significant change in sleeping patterns?


Do you or they feel unusually restless...or unusually sluggish?


Do you or they feel unduly fatigued?


Do you or they experience persistent feelings of hopelessness or inappropriate feelings of guilt?


Have you or they experienced a diminished ability to think or concentrate?


Do you or they have recurrent thoughts of death or suicide?



Other explanations for these symptoms may need to be considered.  Adapted from American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.  Fourth Edition.  Washington, DC.  American Psychiatric Association: 1994

When attempting to assess signs and symptoms, it is important to note that marked changes in behavior or affect are the clearest indication that there may be a problem.  Such changes may or may not fit clearly into the categories above, but are noteworthy nonetheless.

Persons suffering from other mental illness (even "severe" and/or long-term cases) can significantly improve their functioning through effective ongoing treatment.

"Quick fixes" & "cure-alls" are generally neither Persons "recovering" from mental illness and addiction can lead successful lives personally and professionally.

Treatment works and recovery is possible.

If/when you have concerns about yourself or someone you know, and want to know more, please contact the LJA Program.  Remember:
LJA Program Services Are:

Available at NO Charge

Please contact our office or an LJA Program volunteer in your area.  Here is a list of LJA Program volunteers across the state.

Dr. Jessica Cole, LPC-S, NCC
Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program Director
Office: 601-948-0989  
Director's Direct Line: 601-948-4475
Email: [email protected]

Carolyn Barrett, Office Administrator & Monitoring Coordinator
Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program
Telephone: 601-948-0989
Email: [email protected]