Most Hongkongers dare not dream of achieving a work-life balance, as it is unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future.
Every employee, from senior executives to general white-collar workers, comes under pressure from work.
It could be a result of an overwhelmingly high workload or a poor relationship with colleagues in the workplace.
When people are tense, the quality and duration of their sleep can be severely affected.
Some people resort to sleeping pills and even sedatives.
However, taking medicine alone without looking into the root of the problem does not help, and it might lead to a vicious circle, increasing the risk of mood disorders such as depression and anxiety disorder.
The latest medical research has found that not only do the moods of people who are under high pressure and stress deteriorate in the long run, but so do their brain functions.
Too much stress hormones produced by the body over a long period of time threatens the well-being of nerve cells, reducing a person’s cognitive ability.
Though in the past 10 years, Hongkongers have been more willing to accept and support patients suffering from mood disorders, when it comes to the workplace, unhelpful labeling largely remains.
Misconceptions such as “only people with low performance suffer from mood disorders” or “professionals should not be affected by moods” still prevail.
Many patients are unwilling to consult a doctor, as they are afraid it will hamper their career.
The ripple effects grow when people turn a blind eye to their problems.
Since they suffer from poorer concentration, memory and cognitive ability, they may fail to complete tasks at work on time, be despised by colleagues and even fired by their bosses.
Losing a job will, in turn, bring money problems and worries about how long the person might be unemployed, and fears that family and friends will look down on him or her.
Apart from problems like anxiety disorder and insomnia, some people might have headaches, indigestion, eczema, and so on.
Few people realize that the illnesses are caused by their moods.
Many argue that people should adopt a “let go” attitude or cheer themselves up.
They say they should try traveling or reducing their workload to improve their mood, and hence will have no need to see a doctor.
From the perspective of a medical practitioner, people who have symptoms of any mood disorders should seek professional advice and treatment as soon as possible, just as most people do when they have a cold or flu.
A three-point approach of prescribing medication, assisting in changing the patient’s lifestyle, and assisting in changing the patient’s mindset is usually taken by doctors treating depression or anxiety disorder.
Medication is the main and most effective way to relieve the symptoms. Usually, a marked improvement will be seen.
Since it takes time for the cognitive self to recover, patients should continue to follow the doctor’s prescription.
Patients should also do moderate physical exercise and avoid smoking and drinking.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 27.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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