A recent survey conducted by the Hong Kong Playround Association found that one in three young Hongkongers suffers from stress, anxiety or depression.
“Young people’s lives in Hong Kong are not easy. They do not have comfortable lives in this affluent society, and they each bear their own pressure,” said Wan Lap-man, a social worker who conducted the survey of 3,177 young people, aged 6 to 24 on their mental habits.
How do we protect our youth and continue to keep up with the demands of this society?
This is an issue that is rarely discussed because of the stigma of depression in our society. But we can’t ignore the numbers any longer and we must respond to this growing crisis.
- Approximately half of all people who experience anxiety or depression have the onset during childhood or adolescence.
- Although the number of suicides is highest in Japan or South Korea, it is one of the leading causes of death in Hong Kong: about 900 per year in the past decade.
- “huge school stress” is a major cause of the problem
- Lack of play affects emotional development, leading to the rise of anxiety, depression, and problems of attention and self control. ¹
- There is extensive research on the effect of diet on mood. Across these studies, the worse one’s diet, the greater the likelihood of developing depression.
Second...Practice Prevention (and awareness)
- Be aware of what is going on in your child’s emotions by paying attention to their responses and behaviors.
- Talk about struggles as a family and seek professional support when needed.
- Don’t let emotional stress linger. Deal with emotions.
- Work with your healthcare professional to look into:
Adrenal Fatigue :
Continual stressors on the body can lead to the improper or insufficient production of cortisol, an important hormone that helps us respond to stress, that our adrenal glands make. If left undealt with, it can lead to anxiety and depression.
Stress may always be surrounding us in our 21st Century but there are many ways to both minimize it and to respond to it. One of the ways is using simple breathing techniques and including adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha and rhodiola in your routine.
Signs of Adrenal Fatigue:
- Allergies, food reactions, hives, eczema
- Afternoon fatigue, caffeine, or sugar cravings, usually around 3 to 4 pm
- Anxiety, irritability, or depression
- Being in constant overdrive, taking on too much, finding yourself unable to stop and relax
- Cravings for sugary, salty or fatty foods, or carbs (starches, baked goods)
- Difficulty with focus or memory (“brain fog”)
- Digestive problems
- Extra belly fat
- Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up still tired
Gut Imbalances :
Research suggests that gut microbiota imbalance could play a major role in depression. Our gut bacteria are involved in the functions of our nervous system, an imbalanced gut may affect serotonin and dopamine levels, which are known to be related to depression.
Depressed patients show a different gut microbiome profile from healthy people. Their gut microbiota are less diverse and less rich than healthy individuals.
Many research papers have shown that diets of depressed people are far from adequate. The most common nutritional deficiencies seen in patients with mental disorders are of omega–3 fatty acids, B vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that are precursors to neurotransmitters.
A good multi vitamin and mineral supplement along with a clean Omega 3 EPA & DHA supplement like the Udo's Oil + DHA would benefit everyone living under the modern day stresses of life. Stressveda, a combination of plant derived B Vitamins with Ashwagandha can also help your body respond to stress.
Third...Support with the right tools and nutrition.
Use a combination of tools to help you and your children handle stress in a healthy way. Approach this issue wholistically and tackle it from all sides, nutritionally, lifestyle and psychologically.
Starting with acknowledgement of this issue is important. From there it will be easier to take small steps like speaking about the issues with professionals, reducing stress and using tools and nutrition to respond to it.
Written By Denise Tam, Holistic Nutritionist