Bankruptcy and Depression: No, I’m Not a Doctor
This post is about bankruptcy and depression. No, I’m not a doctor. (Actually my law school degree says I’m a JD– a juris doctor). But I see depressed people a lot. And because I see it a lot, I’ve read up on it.
The VA says that depression can be caused by trauma. As a bankruptcy lawyer, I see a lot of people who’ve been knocked down by physical or emotional trauma.
Next, according to this NIH article, many physical illnesses also cause depression. Academic research–the first and most famous by Professor, now Senator, Elizabeth Warren–shows that most bankruptcies follow medical problems.
Finally, this blog from the Harvard Medical School says depression can be a side effect of many medications.
I talked to someone this week–I’ll call her Farah–who had all three of those factors. And she was obviously, seriously depressed.
We Talk Openly About Depression
If one of my clients looks depressed, I bring it up. When I talk openly about depression, most people who look depressed tell me that they already know they are. Most of those, like Farah, have already sought treatment. If they haven’t, I encourage them to get help, saying something like this: “Depression is tied to chemical changes in your brain. You can’t just pull up your socks and get over those chemical changes.”
Bringing up depression directly is what the Cleveland Clinic calls “assertive communication.” The Cleveland Clinic says one way people can help their depressed friends is to talk openly about what we see.
After I bring it up, I try to coax people to taking a look at their depressed self; and encourage them to remember their “real self.” So, I don’t tell people to shake off the depression. (Telling depressed people to get over it is NOT recommended.) Instead, I tell them to recognize how seriously it is affecting them. I try to show what the Cleveland Clinic article calls “empathy.”
Depression is often combined with guilt. When that feeling of guilt to comes up, I bring up Donald Trump. Look, I tell people. Donald Trump used “the chapter laws” (he meant Chapter 11 but didn’t say that) because he lost money in the casino business.
A few years ago I calculated that in his fourth Chapter 11, Donald Trump discharged more debt than all fifteen thousand people I’ve helped put together.
If Trump, who claims to be worth ten billion dollars, can take advantage of the “chapter laws,” you can too.
The Purpose of Bankruptcy is to Help You
Ninety years ago, the Supreme Court, in the famous case of Local Loan v Hunt, said that giving people in bankruptcy a fresh start in life is a “public…interest.” In other words, the country is better off when people are able to get back on their feet, financially.
That’s the point of the bankruptcy laws. The country is better off when people like you can get back on your feet. (The credit card companies will do fine either way.)
Bankruptcy and Depression
I love being a bankruptcy lawyer because I can help almost everyone I talk to. Of life’s problems–and people with depression are usually battling many of life’s problems–too much debt is usually the easiest one to fix.
PS For More Information on Depression
Here’s an article I think is helpful from Psychology Today.