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Clinical depression - barrister

My story

“I am a barrister of nearly 30 years’ call practising in Criminal Law. Most of the time I can function normally and carry out work to a high standard. However at least 3 times a year I become completely overwhelmed with the worries and stresses associated with representing people’s lives whether they are the defendants or victims

I have in the last 5 years suffered numerous episodes of clinical depression which have required me within that period to take increasingly strong doses of anti-depressant medicine. When I have a depressive episode I am completely over-whelmed with feelings of worthlessness and simply cannot function. I tend to have my breakdowns a day or so after I have finished a trial. I put this down to the fact that when you are carrying out the highly pressurised work necessary in front line advocacy, the adrenalin is keeping you going, along with what seems at times superhuman effort.

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As soon as the case has concluded you drop from a high down to a low. With adrenalin absent my mood often plummets uncontrollably. One solution is to keep working at a high octane rate and accept back to back trials, but eventually you become burnt out and the consequent fall is worse. My GP is aware of my condition and has prescribed medication.

In some ways I can only be happy when working flat out, but obviously like everyone I really want a holiday and to relax. When I do go on holiday I quite frequently have depressive break down as the adrenaline has gone and I suffer a self-esteem collapse”

Barrister, 30 years’ Call.

The information and resource packs on this website are designed to help you and your colleagues to work as a community for better wellbeing and professional resilience. If you want to provide feedback on these resources, or to get involved in promoting wellbeing please get in touch.


Get in touch Policy & practice

It can be difficult to make a living from law and it can be pressurised and demanding. Competition and an adversarial approach to everything can make collegiate relationships difficult. This website aims to provide you with the knowledge to manage these stressors, make emotionally informed, wise professional decisions and thrive in your chosen profession.

A simple expression that sums up wellbeing is ‘travelling well’

59% of barristers demonstrate unhealthy levels of perfectionism