Coping with Depression in Law School

Where does depression hurt? All jokes about commercials aside, depression hurts law students everywhere. People form all walks of life go through moments of depression, and law student really are no different. If you’re in law school and starting to feel the sharp pangs of depression, don’t worry — you are not alone. In fact, you’re actually in good — albeit silent — company. There are a lot of law student struggling with depression as they try to get used to a new world that will demand more of them than they could have ever imagined.

I say this a lot on this blog, but the truth is that law school is definitely a winner take all system. You don’t want to walk into law school thinking that you will be able to just skate by and still get a top paying law firm job. It just doesn’t happen that way. When people realize this, they become depressed at the level of work necessary to be the best.

Of course, there are plenty of law blogs that say that your efforts are always going to be rewarded — I strongly disagree, and I challenge other law students to step up and admit that it really does take giving your absolute best in order to get anywhere. The students that have the best grades and the best overall package are the ones that are going to look forward to a six figure salary at the end of the whole ordeal. The ones that focused more on partying and making friends are not going to make it out with that type of cash. The truth hurts, but you have to know this going in so that you plan your attack better.

Going back to the topic at hand, depression is something that you have to deal with. I don’t mean this in a “suck it up” kind of way — there’s no reason to feel like you will have to automatically take anything that you’re given. But you will need to make sure that you build a certain type of social network in law school that will be able to handle just about anything you throw at it.

My point is simply this: you have to open up and you have to talk to people that can understand where you’re coming form. You might want to make a trip to the school therapist and get a fresh perspective. You might want to unwind with other law school students and voice your complaints. If you’re frustrated at not grasping a bit of material, you might want to reach out for help. With so many students all doing the same thing, there’s no reason to feel like it’s impossible to learn the material. As you build friendships, you start realizing that the only way to really survive is to join forces with people that are just as serious as you. Now, this doesn’t mean that you want to just go with anyone and everyone that claims to be serious. Scope out the people that actually walk the talk, and you’ll be fine.

It’s important to stay focused because there is a lot of time and money on the line here. You might think that it doesn’t affect your long term success, but it really does. I can’t stress it enough: you don’t want to give up, not when there’s so much potential success waiting for you!

Can you win the whole system? Sure you can. But you must be willing to overcome depression in order to see your way to the end of the road. If you don’t do this, you will always look back at your law school days with regret, and who wants to do that?