Struggling Against Sadness
Posted Jan 3, 2008 5:36 PM CST
By Melanie Lasoff Levs
Three years ago, Dan Lukasik started feeling lethargic. He had difficulty sleeping, his body ached, and he couldn’t concentrate on his work as managing partner at Cantor Lukasik Dolce & Panepinto in Buffalo, N.Y.
Lukasik’s persistent sadness led to a diagnosis of depression. His first reaction was typical attorney: “I felt like most lawyers think—‘I can deal with it by myself,’ ” he recalls. “But it got to the point where I really couldn’t.”
Today Lukasik manages his illness with the help of his family, along with exercise, medication and psychotherapy. But he realized that other lawyers with depression—and similar go-it-alone attitudes—might not fare as well. He also remembered that during his recovery he was unable to find an online resource and support network specifically geared toward lawyers facing depression. So he started one: Lawyerswithdepression.com, which launched in July 2007.
“Lawyers are very sensitive to how depression might affect their jobs or their reputations,” he explains. “Because depression is such an isolating thing, I thought [the website] would be a great way to introduce lawyers in the privacy of their own home or office to thinking about depression.”
Lawyerswithdepression.com includes articles, podcasts and resources on depression as it relates to attorneys. Lukasik updates the site constantly with new links and news, and each month a different author writes an article. Lukasik doesn’t track visitors but says he’s received positive feedback from lawyers across the country.
Lukasik also speaks to local bar groups about depression and runs a local support group, hoping to put a functional face on an illness that affects an estimated 25 percent to 40 percent of lawyers. “If I can come forward and I’m a successful lawyer, it gives some credibility to what I’m talking about,” he says.
Williamsville, N.Y., lawyer Susan Facer agrees. Facer participates in one of Lukasik’s support groups. “This kind of website had to come from an attorney who’d experienced depression to have credibility with other attorneys in the same position,” says Facer. “This website will make help more accessible.”
From ABAJournal.com: Lawyer Depression Comes Out of the Closet