Lawyers most depressed: study

By Mark Schliebs

April 23, 2007 11:25am

Depressing ... many sufferers turn to the bottle to cope
  • More lawyers suffer than any other profession
  • Likelihood of depression linked with age
  • Insurance, accountanting among worst-hit


LAWYERS, insurance brokers and accountants are among the most depressed workers in Australia, according to a wide-ranging study.

Nearly 16 per cent of lawyers who responded to the survey displayed “moderate or severe symptoms of depression” with nearly a third of those using alcohol and drugs to deal with the problem.  

Patent attorneys and insurance underwriters were the next most likely to suffer from depression, with professional workers overall having higher levels of symptoms than the general population.

The survey also found age to be a factor influencing depression.

“The younger professionals have higher rates of depressive symptoms than older professionals,” the report by Beyond Blue and Beaton Consulting said.

Nearly 5 per cent of people working at actuarial firms, which have the seventh highest proportion of workers suffering from depression, also used drugs and alcohol to try to combat symptoms.

And about 9 per cent of architects also reported symptoms of depression.

President of the Law Society of NSW Geoff Dunlevy said he wasn't surprised by the results of the study.

"For a long time, the Society has receieved anecdotal evidence from solicitors regarding the prevalence of depression,'' Mr Dunlevy said.

"Law, unfortunately, is a high-pressure profession.''

He said the Law Society was implementing programs to help lawyers seek treatment.

The results of the Beyond Blue study were announced today by former West Australian premier Geoff Gallop, who resigned in January 2006 to help battle his own depression.

Beyond Blue is urging industry leaders to do more to help their workers.

More than 17,000 people responded to the survey with more than 7500 of respondents working in the ten professions identified as being worst for depression.

They are:

1. Law
2. Patent Attorney
3. Insurance underwriting
4. Accounting
5. IT services
6. Architectural
7. Actuarial Firm
8. Engineering
9. Consulting
10. Insurance brokering