More Hong Kongers are showing signs of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder than ever before amid months of increasingly violent protests, according to a decade-long study published on Friday in The Lancet medical journal.
The prevalence of “probable depression” in local residents age 18 years and older has doubled since the Occupy Central movement in 2014, when demonstrators took over major roads for 79 days, according to the study.
People with symptoms of PTSD rose to 32% of a sample questioned between September to November 2019, at the height of the unrest. That’s up from just 5% following Occupy — the city’s last major pro-democracy movement. The researchers from the University of Hong Kong enrolled 18,045 adults and sampled random subsets of over one thousand people.
“One in five adults now reports probable depression or suspected PTSD, which is comparable to those experiencing armed conflicts, large-scale disasters, or terrorist attacks,” wrote the researchers.
They warned that Hong Kong was “under-resourced to deal with this excess mental health burden” and they expect hundreds of thousands more affected adults to seek outpatient support services, translating to a 12% rise in demand.