Under stress? Then drink green tea.
That is the advice of the Health Department for the more than 300,000 people said to be suffering from severe psychological stress.
A survey by the department found 6.7 per cent of the respondents suffered such distress, meaning they had temporary or long-term negative emotions.
And it is not just a matter of emotions - severe psychological stress can kill too, the department says.
More than 2,000 people aged between 18 and 64 were polled in the Hong Kong survey in April last year. They were asked how often they felt nervous, hopeless or worthless.
Psychological stress was more common among some groups: 15.8 per cent of those who slept less than six hours a night were sufferers, as were 8.5 per cent of heavy smokers, 9.3 per cent of those who live in public housing and 8.6 per cent of those aged between 18 and 24. In addition, one in 10 divorcees and one in five chronically ill people were found to be suffering from stress.
The latest issue of the Centre for Health Protection publication Non-Communicable Disease Watch, which lists the survey findings, cites a 2004 British study that found sufferers were at a 71 per cent higher risk of death from various causes and 54 per cent more likely to develop heart disease and suffer strokes.
Besides seeking medical help, the department recommended sufferers socialise more and take part in activities such as voluntary work, and chat with friends and family.
The newsletter also quoted a 2006 Japanese study of 42,000 Japanese people aged 40 or above that found those who drank five cups of green tea daily were 20 per cent less likely to suffer psychological stress.
Those who drank three to four cups a day were 11 per cent less likely to suffer such stress.
A possible explanation is that some chemicals in green tea could reduce the body's reaction to stress, according to the newsletter.
'We should learn to accept what we can do and what we cannot do. We should focus on what we can do well,' the newsletter said.
The Kessler six-item psychological distress scale has five levels
All of the time (4)
Most of the time (3)
Some of the time (2)
A little of the time (1)
None of the time (0)
1 During the past 30 days, how often did you feel nervous?
2 During the past 30 days, how often did you feel hopeless?
3 During the past 30 days, how often did you feel restless or fidgety?
4 During the past 30 days, how often did you feel so sad that nothing could cheer you up?
5 During the past 30 days, how often did you feel that everything was an effort?
6 During the past 30 days, how often did you feel worthless? Where do you fall?
Add the numbers in brackets by your answers for your score: __________
A score of 13 or greater indicates a severe level of psychological distress
SOURCE: CENTRE FOR HEALTH PROTECTION