Whitehorse Daily Star

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A TIME OF UNEASINESS – Early in the pandemic, says Joanne Gibson, a pharmacist and owner of the Shoppers Drug Mart in the Qwanlin Mall, she detected high stress levels among many members of the store’s clientele.

Pandemic has elevated Yukoners’ anxiety levels

A Whitehorse pharmacist says anxiety levels have been palpably high amongst Yukoners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Gabrielle Plonka on June 17, 2020

A Whitehorse pharmacist says anxiety levels have been palpably high amongst Yukoners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was noticeable; you could feel the stress in all the customers,” Joanne Gibson said in an interview Tuesday.

Gibson owns the Shoppers Drug Mart in the Qwanlin Mall.

A national Shoppers Drug Mart survey found that two in three Canadians are experiencing higher anxiety, while 10 per cent have been experiencing anxiety at severe levels in the last few months.

Early in the pandemic, Gibson said she could tell stress levels were high based on the number of people panic-buying certain products and requesting early refills of prescriptions.

“It seemed everyone wanted to have their prescriptions on hand; they didn’t know if there was going to be a lockdown, there was uncertainty about medication supplies,” Gibson said.

There has been an increase in the number of prescriptions filled for anxiety medications and inhalers, she said.

Gibson said she often reassures customers that there isn’t a medication shortage. The pharmacy initially restricted prescription refills to a 30-day supply to mitigate the effect of panic-buying on the supply chain.

There are also some products that saw scarcities before the pandemic, she explained.

“We’re being very cautious of things that are in short supply,” Gibson said.

The pharmacy has now returned to a 90-day supply limit for most medications.

Even as pandemic restrictions are relaxed, Gibson said, the transition out of lockdown seems to be anxiety-inducing for Yukoners.

“I think change is always stressful, and learning to deal with what everybody calls the ‘new normal’ can be stressful,” Gibson said.

“Some people are still feeling anxiety that the restrictions are being lifted.”

Gibson has told clients that just because those restrictions are lifted, doesn’t mean there’s an increased risk of a virus outbreak.

“Dr. (Brendan) Hanley said the risk of mental health problems outweigh the risk of COVID right now,” said Gibson, referring to the territory’s chief medical health officer.

“(We) are just trying to reassure people that all those measures put in place now are going to help in the future.”

Gibson believes that people may be experiencing heightened mental health problems because the usual sources of stress relief – such as social, religious and peer-support gatherings – haven’t been available.

“It’s understandable, and just being aware those people need a different type of help than they’re used to,” Gibson said.

She has recommended some mental health resources in Whitehorse, as well as the pharmacy’s online stress management program. 

“There’s guided meditations, ways to work through stress and anxiety, giving people tools to deal with their stress,” Gibson said.

The safety precautions in the store have also taken some adjustment for Gibson and pharmacy staff.

“It’s been different,” Gibson said.

“Speaking to customers through the plexiglass is not what we’re used to, but we’re getting used to it, and everyone is aware that it’s a necessity.”

She said Yukoners have generally been patient and compliant with the safety measures, such as physical distancing, in place in the store.

Comments (12)

Up 9 Down 2

Dentist on Jun 22, 2020 at 6:24 pm

No stress here. Didn't have to look in peoples mouths for a couple of months, and the homestead looks better than it has in years. I certainly think that Dr. Hanley is overly cautious at times, but on the other hand, we live in one of the safest places in Canada.

Up 20 Down 5

NickyB on Jun 21, 2020 at 11:30 pm

Scare people with a virus. Place them in quarantine. Count the number of dead every second of every day in every news headline. Send COVID positive patients directly into nursing homes to guarantee maximum death tolls. Close schools. Close all businesses. 40,000,000 out of jobs. Peak unemployment. Remove entertainment: parks, gyms, bars, restaurants, sports. No dating. No touching. No friends. No visits with family members outside the home. Mask people. Dehumanize them. Make them stand 6 feet apart. No smiles. Close temples and churches. Create a vacuum. Let depression and anxiety and desperation set in.

Then... ignite racial hatred and civil unrest. Empty the prisons because of the virus and fill the streets with criminals. Drop pallets of bricks off on city streets. Send in ANTIFA and paid protesters to vandalize property as if they are freedom fighters. Undermine the law. Loot, attack law enforcement, but tell government to order a stand-down.

We are all being baited by adversarial governments - China, Iran, Russia who want to destroy America, but can’t take America in a war. Then... In an election year where the people sit divided instead of united, have the Far Left exploit the racial wars to fuel the fires, and destroy it from within.

We are being conditioned, manipulated, and programmed by multiple agendas as never before.....time to DO OUR OWN RESEARCH and MAKE UP OUR OWN MINDS rather than swallowing everything being spoon-fed to us!

Up 14 Down 5

Unfeckingbelievable! on Jun 21, 2020 at 4:20 pm

Ah yes... Liberal paternalism... We are going to protect your health by killing them... We are going to eradicate racism and inequality through racism and discrimination... White peoples... White men - Pitch forks and torches for the masses while liberals pontificate on their sorry as**s...

You could not write a more devious plot... Although the Liberal manifesto - 1984 comes close.

Up 16 Down 7

At home in the Yukon on Jun 20, 2020 at 5:41 pm

Yukoners have a painfully unhealthy paranoia about Covid. It is being promoted by our government and by our chief medical officer. Simply put, THERE IS NO COVID IN THE YUKON! None. Not even a little bit. The Americans travelling through offer some risk that a case or two will arise. But they have brought zero cases so far. We are quite able to handle a few cases of Covid. It wouldn't be the end of the world. But if we continue our lockdown and our fear, it kinda will be.

An unusual number of Yukoners have died of drug overdoses during the lockdown. These are deaths that must be attributed to the treatment. Domestic violence is up, leaving children emotionally scarred for life. The "lockdown" treatment is destructive, folks. We really need to see it end.

Fortunately for our sanity, the government has opened schools. Had it not done so, my frustration would have broken forth into public protest. OPEN UP WIDE ALREADY! (To most anybody but Americans.)

Up 18 Down 13

stiff on Jun 20, 2020 at 11:28 am

Boredom breeds anxiety. Whitehorse is the most boring city in the world. Evidence: liquor sales, pot sales, spouse abuse, retirement vacuum, the materialist values of a spiritually bankrupt society.

Up 23 Down 21

Compromised auto immune system on Jun 19, 2020 at 11:52 pm

I'd like to thank The Premier and Dr. Hanley on a job well done for the first wave of the pandemic. Let's hope we can do as well with the second wave this fall and not become lax letting our guard down.

Up 7 Down 12

Juniper Jackson on Jun 19, 2020 at 9:12 pm

Just adding vocal support to you on this issue JC and Dave. Both of you nailed it in one sentence.

Up 19 Down 2

Wilf Carter's Sensible Twin on Jun 19, 2020 at 4:38 pm

DUH - anxiety levels have been raised on the entire planet.

Up 43 Down 23

Dave on Jun 18, 2020 at 12:26 pm

The pandemic hasn’t elevated people’s stress levels as much as the actions of Sky Is Falling Sandy and the media spouting doom and gloom 24/7 have.

Up 32 Down 19

Jc on Jun 18, 2020 at 10:47 am

It's what I've been saying all along - Collateral damage will out weigh the lock down. Now, after all these months the so called experts are starting to see it.

Up 16 Down 16

Matthew on Jun 18, 2020 at 6:32 am

Why waste a good "pandemic" to get everyone hooked on anti-depressants... lol! Nothing quite screams healthy like a bunch of toxic man made chemicals rushing through your body!

Up 22 Down 17

Guncache on Jun 17, 2020 at 6:28 pm

No anxiety of any kind for me. Each day was business as usual. I never gave covid a second thought.

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