17 February 2019
Hong Kong authorities need to focus more on the issue of people's mental heath, a new study says. Photo: HKEJ
Hong Kong authorities need to focus more on the issue of people's mental heath, a new study says. Photo: HKEJ

Depression striking more people in HK, new study warns

A study has pointed to a significant increase in the proportion of people suffering from mental depression issues in Hong Kong.

According to the Mental Health Association of Hong Kong (MHAHK), 5.5 percent of respondents in a survey showed signs of clinical depression, while 9.1 percent reached the category of “requiring attention”.

The figures mark a substantial rise in such levels compared to a previous study in 2014.

The findings showed that 8.9 percent of the interviewees had thought about killing themselves “more than a few days” within the past two weeks. The results are higher than the 7.6 percent recorded in 2014.

The study, which was conducted via 36 testing stations across Hong Kong in late 2016, outlines the need for greater attention on the issue of mental health.  

The MHAHK said it received over 4,683 responses and that it subjected one in every two cases for analysis randomly.

According to Ming Pao Daily, the test adopted the “PHQ-9″ format, which asked interviewees nine questions to understand their past two weeks’ depression index.

Queries included whether the people were “tired and fatigued”, feeling “low and helpless”, having “suicidal thoughts” — as well as the frequency of the symptoms.

The highest mark recorded was 27. A patient with a score higher than 15 marks would require clinical help, according to the MHAHK.

Sun Yuk-kit, who was in charge of the analysis, pointed out that depression is the mental illness with the highest chances of suicide.

The latest interviews showed a disturbing rise in depression symptoms in comparison to the past, such as being “tired and fatigued” almost every day — which was the case among 25 percent of the respondents — and “insomnia, easily sleepy, and oversleeping” (18 percent).

Research in the past had found that aerobic exercise helps lower chances of depression exponentially by releasing endorphins.

The Hong Kong survey showed that 35.8 percent of the interviewees had not done any exercise in the past month.

According to mental disease expert Dr Benjamin Lai, people who are single or widowed, those who are experiencing life changes, and retirees, are all in the high risk group for depression.

He told Apple Daily that early stages of symptoms include not feeling happy. We as a society can do more by caring for others through normal interaction and providing help early on, he said.

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