When I talk about medicine and mental health to large audiences, I often start with the following imagery and facts: think of a woman you know who is radiantly healthy. I bet your intuition tells you she sleeps and eats well, finds purpose in her life, is active and fit, and finds time to relax and enjoy the company of others. I doubt you envision her waking up to prescription … read more →
Dan's Latest Blog Entries
“If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in the moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people” – Thich Nhat Hanh Like all parents, my Mom and Dad were flawed people – as I am. Yet, they were something more than that. I’ve … read more →
I am a lawyer, like many of you. I also struggle with depression, like too many of you as well. A new study by the American Bar Association and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation found that twenty-eight percent of over 12,825 practicing lawyers polled reported a problem with depression. This is over three times the rate found in the general population. When put in perspective, of the 1.2 million attorneys … read more →
August. It seems like the sweet sun’s been high in a blue sky for months. It’s steamy outside. But that’s just fine with me. My feet aren’t cold, dark clouds don’t threaten snow, and everyone’s outside watering yards and going for walks at night. Author Natalie Babbitt captures some of summer’s magic when she writes: “The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of … read more →
Depression in the News
Six Ways to Sweat Out Stress
CNN reports that calming activities such as yoga and meditation can be very effective stress relievers, especially when integrated into daily life. However, sometimes stress, like steam trapped under the lid of a boiling pot, needs a more powerful release.Although many forms of exercise counter stress by boosting endorphins (our brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters), recent research points to higher-intensity exercise offering increased mood-enhancing benefits. According to a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in August, moderate and high-intensity exercise demonstrated a greater beneficial impact than low-intensity forms. Read this News.
Bipolar Can Be Difficult to Diagnose and Even Harder to Treat
The Washington Post reports about 2.6 percent of adults. The disorder can be hard to recognize and harder to treat. Combining medications often brings substantial improvement, but some patients experience side effects and show minimal improvement. Researchers, who have found that bipolar disorder is inherited more than 70 percent of the time, hope to identify drugs to target the 20 genetic variations known to be associated with the disorder. Read the Story.
Yoga Breathing May Help to Reduce Depression
New research finds that a breathing-based meditation practice helped alleviate severe depression in people who did not fully respond to antidepressant treatments. Investigators from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania discovered breathing practices associated with Sudarshan Kriya yoga significantly improved symptoms of depression and anxiety. Read the Story.
Study: Vast Majority of People Who Are Depressed Do Not Seek Help
National Public Radio reports that of the estimated 350 million people affected by depression globally, the vast majority of them don’t get treatment for their condition either due to stigma or a lack of knowledge, according to a study of more than 50,000 people in 21 countries. Harvard Medical School and the World Health Organization found that in the poorest countries, one in 27 people with depression received minimally adequate care for their condition. Even in the richest countries, only one in five people with depression sought care. Read the article.
LWD in the News
Coping With Stress: Trudging Through the Drudgering
From the Attorney At Work website, lawyer Ruth Carter blogs: “How do you cope with stress?” That was this month’s question from my Attorney at Work editors. At first, I laughed at the question, but the gentlest response I can give is, “Not gracefully.”I’ve been open about my issues with depression and anxiety, and these are things that impact me every day. My officemate frequently hears me making non-word noises at my computer screen like “blah aa aah,” and taking deep breaths that help quiet the constant mental chatter.” Read the rest of her blog.
Beyond Biglaw: Embracing Stress
Attorney Gaston Kroub blogs in Above the Law: “The general consensus is that many lawyers lead stressful lives. Whether it is the pressures of handling deals, the emotional toll of counseling broken families in a matrimonial dispute, or the general demands of life as a litigator, stress is an ever-present condiment on the sandwich meat that is a lawyer’s life. At the same time, lawyers are generally considered to have plenty of experience managing stress, due to their having survived law school, the bar exam, and even today’s broken job market for recent graduates.” Read the rest of his blog.
Will Meditation Help Stressed-out Lawyers?
Western cognitive psychologist John Paul Minda is collaborating with San Francisco-based lawyer and author Jenna Cho on a project designed to investigate the relationship between mindfulness training and the well-being of attorneys. “We’re hoping to uncover whether or not there are specific things in relation to lawyers,” said Minda, a member of the Brain and Mind Institute. “The specific kinds of stress attorneys deal with is something research really hasn’t done. We just don’t know because this is a relatively new venture. This is definitely exploratory work which will allow us to generate a more specific and targeted hypothesis.” Read the rest of the story.
Lawyers: Find Freedom From Anger, Anxiety, and Stress
Dr. Rebecca Nerison, a psychologist and author of the ABA Web Store bestseller “Lawyers, Anger and Anxiety: Dealing with the Stresses of the Legal Profession,” says that the accumulated pressures have damaging effects if left unchecked. In this interview, she offers some practical tips for managing stress and developing the resilience to bounce back from stressful events. Read the this article.
The Best of the Blogosphere
5 Positive Things I’ve Gained on My Journey With Depression
From the website The Mighty, depression blogger Rob Harper writes: “Now, don’t get me wrong. Depression is a hole — a deep, dark place of isolation, loneliness, and confusion (amongst countless other negative things). But does this mean nothing good can come from having depression?” Read the rest of his blog.
On Losing Self-Blame and the Pressure to Feel Joy
Blogger Therese Borchard writes, “I have always felt terribly guilty about these thoughts. They are a source of great shame for me because I know I am so very blessed. Every day I scribble plenty of things in my gratitude journal. Intellectually I register all things considered good and I thank God for them, but the emotion is inaccessible. I see my ten-year-old hold a lemonade stand with tips going to the SPCA and I smile, but the joy is not there. And the more I try to force it, the faster it escapes.” Read the rest of her blog.
Is This Depression? Or Melancholy? Or . . .
Therapist Will Hall writes, “One of the great sadnesses I encounter in my work is when people, struggling to find their own language, have adopted the language of others, or doctors, or the media in a way that only obscures and confuses the sense of who they are. Their very description of self has been usurped. I don’t have contact with the person, I have contact with a cloud of terms and jargon repeated from someone else. But just using the word “depression” does not always have to mean someone else’s language – sometimes people have their own definitions that are clearly personal and intimate revelations of their direct experience.” Read the rest of his blog.
Coping with Depression Improves with Practice
Tiffanie Verbeke writes: “Did you know that coping with depression improves with practice? I wish that depression checked prerequisites before working itself into someone’s brain. I want to know that I’ve met a checklist of skills that guarantees that I’m fully capable of coping with depression. Fortunately, coping skills can improve with practice, in which case I think that depression could almost be viewed as a sport. Athletes have basic skills that help them succeed, but they must practice smaller, more specific skills in order to improve their overall success at the sport.” The same goes for coping with depression. Read the rest of her blog.