There was a powerful article about one woman’s battle with life-long depression in last Sunday’s edition of The New York Times Magazine.
Depression, which she describes as a “thick black paste” and “the muck of bleakness”, can be a chronic and reoccurring condition for many sufferers (as it was for this woman). The research bears this out. Sixty percent of people who have had one episode of major depression will have a recurrence. With each episode, the risk of recurrence increases from 60% to 70% after two episodes, to about 90% after three. Further, studies show that when symptoms continue, recurrent episodes can be longer and more severe, with less time between episodes. Scientists have recently found that long-term treatment with antidepressants can be beneficial.
My view is that it is critical to cut depression off at the pass before it gets a foothold in our lives. That is why I encourage lawyers who are in the midst of their first depressive episode to hit it with everything they’ve got: medication, talk therapy, exercise, a spiritual practice and support groups. If we do not, we run a significant risk of the depression returning.
As the old Japanese proverb goes, “Falls seven times, stand up eight.” Winston Churchill, who suffered from depression his whole life, had a modern take on this ancient wisdom: “If you are going through hell, keep going.” Take action, be determined and trust that you will get better.