Depression and stress are widespread among white-collar workers, with young people worst affected and men afflicted more than women, a study has shown. The Whole Person Development Institute interviewed 1,787 white-collar workers aged 21 to 60 between July 2006 and March this year using a psychology test tool called Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale. Of the respondents, 67 per cent were women. The test - consisting of 21 questions - determines whether respondents have suffered symptoms of the three psychological problems within the past four weeks. It showed that a quarter of respondents suffered depression, 29 per cent faced anxiety and more than a third said they were stressed, to a slight, serious or severe degree. Workers of both sexes aged 21 to 30 were found to be most vulnerable, with about a third saying they faced anxiety and stress. The situation was worse among men, with 28 per cent suffering depression, 29 per cent anxiety and 37 per cent stress, compared with 22 per cent, 28 per cent and 33 per cent for women. Clinical psychologist Samantha Yung Yuen-man said the results showed office workers in Hong Kong were more stressed than those in Scotland and Australia, where similar surveys have been conducted. She said the higher result for men arose from traditionally higher expectations of men's ability. Ms Yung warned that emotional problems could undermine productivity and in the long run place a burden on the medical system and hurt the economy. Psychiatrist Wong Chung-kwong said many people tended to ignore their emotional problems as some symptoms were common, such as a difficulty in relaxing, loss of appetite and fading memory. He said emotional problems arose when there was an imbalance between the cause of stress and the ability to cope. When people failed to adapt to changes in life, they would suffer emotional problems, he said. A Ms Lam, who said she had suffered emotional problems for about seven years, said thinking positively was vital to overcoming the problem. 'I was concerned very much how people looked at me in the past, which drove me crazy,' she said. 'Now, I try to pay less attention to them and see things from a different perspective.' Simon Lee, who was diagnosed with depression and compulsive disorder, said he once thought about jumping from a balcony. He said medicine and counselling were both important. Dr Wong advised people with emotional problems to discuss their feelings with someone. They should try to rebuild their value systems and try not to be swayed by others. He also suggested that sufferers reflect on their lives from time to time. Dr Wong said anxiety meant that sufferers consistently felt exposed to threat, while depression was the feeling of loss experienced after a major setback, such as a divorce, loss of a job, or death of a family member.