Studies show that about 40% of lawyers struggle with anxiety: a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. This is understandable since lawyers have to contend with uncertain outcomes and other stressors as part of their daily work life. In many cases however, anxiety becomes pervasive and can be marked by excessive, intrusive, unrelenting worry and fear that dominates our thoughts and perceptions and causes difficulty in daily life. A true anxiety disorder will cause someone to experience heightened levels of anxiety in response to even small events or regular life activities.

Anxiety can also be tightly intertwined with substance abuse and depression, making it more difficult to identify and to treat. Lawyers are at an increased risk for all three of these conditions. For some it begins with anxiety, and we turn to substances initially to calm that anxiety. That self-medicating can then morph into an addiction to alcohol, benzodiazepines or other drugs. For others, use of substances brings on anxiety, which creates a vicious cycle that increases both conditions. There is also a relationship between anxiety and depression. In fact, 60% of people with depression are also suffering from an anxiety disorder.

Symptoms of anxiety can fluctuate in both severity and duration, but include some combination of the following:

  • Constant worry
  • A sense of panic, impending danger or doom
  • Uncontrollable, excessive thoughts, often repetitive or fixated on a single trigger
  • Feeling powerless
  • Unrealistic or overreaction to events
  • Inability to tolerate uncertainty
  • Difficulty concentrating – hard to “think straight”
  • Fear or confusion
  • Inability to relax, feeling edgy, feeling apprehensive
  • Poor memory
  • Hyperventilating
  • Sweating
  • Muscle tension and/or trembling
  • Sleep disturbances, usually an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep
  • Physical weakness
  • Stomach problems
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath

There are a variety of effective treatments available to alleviate and/or manage symptoms. Because we, as lawyers, place such a high premium on confidence, competency, and invulnerability, we often interpret physical or mental illnesses as a sign of weakness, frailty or incompetence, when that is not true. This faulty belief may dissuade us from seeking treatment for anxiety. But like many of these conditions, the earlier we seek treatment, the better the outcome. If you think you are suffering from anxiety, please call or email us today: 888-408-6222  or