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‘Anxiety and depression are increasing’: Alberta doctor sees spike in mental health visits – Global News



An Alberta family doctor says he is seeing as many as 12 patients a day suffering with mental health challenges when he used to see just one or two a day in 2019.

Dr. Mukarram A. Zaidi, a family physician in Calgary, says a number of factors, including the pandemic, are contributing to a huge spike in anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies.

“I don’t have concrete numbers but I’m seeing more and more patients with depression,” he told Global News.

READ MORE: Kenney pledges $53M in mental health funding as Alberta sees no new COVID-19 deaths

Zaidi said many people have lost their jobs and most of those who haven’t are working from home.

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We used to socialize after work, go out and about on the weekend, go out for dinner, workout and catch up with family and friends.

“That has all gone. A: we don’t have work, B: we are working from home, C: we don’t go out.”

Read more:
Shortage of last-resort antidepressant creating ‘scary situation’ for patients: pharmacists

Additionally, many Albertans live in housing that doesn’t have a dedicated space either for work or for working out and staying active.

“A lot of people are working from their basement,” Zaidi said. “Many of patients live in apartments and can’t work out.

“It builds on each other… Everyone’s on edge,” he said.

“Not socializing with one another is a huge deal. Not being allowed to have family visit you… it’s skyrocketed depression in younger patients that I see.”

The big increase in the number of patients suffering from severe depression is what led Zaidi to share a message on Twitter earlier this week.

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Zaidi believes in addition to the economy and the pandemic, political rhetoric is exacerbating the stress Albertans — both patients and physicians — are feeling.

Read more:
Alberta health minister blames feds for scarce details on Phase 2 COVID-19 vaccine plan

“They don’t see ways the economy will improve. They don’t see hope.”

“The government has no clear message,” he said.

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Alberta health minister is furious over vaccine delivery changes

Alberta health minister is furious over vaccine delivery changes – Jan 28, 2021

Confusion and disappointment over vaccine timelines is also increasing worry among Albertans, Zaidi said.

“Their anxiety and depression is increasing on a daily basis.”

Read more:
Albertans report greatest increase of stress as Canadians’ mental health plummets

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Last spring, the Calgary Distress Centre saw a 21 per cent increase in suicide-related calls between January and May. Also over that time period, the centre received more than 5,500 crisis contacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The centre’s director of communication, Diane Jones Konihowski, said the majority of calls the organization has received are mainly related to isolation, anxiety and depression amid the ongoing pandemic.

Read more:
City sees spike in crisis calls amid COVID-19 pandemic: Calgary Distress Centre

While provincial data from the chief medical examiner for 2020 and 2019 is still considered preliminary and may change as cases are finalized, the suicide rate for Alberta actually appears to be trending downward.

In 2020, there were an estimated 468 deaths by suicide, the highest number occurring in the 30-34 age group. The previous year, there were an estimated 601 deaths by suicide, with the highest number reported in the 55-59 age group.

In both years, these occurrences were three times more common in men than women.

The two years before that — 2018 and 2017 — recorded similar rates of suicide: 630 and 647, respectively.

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Alberta announces $68.5M towards protecting the vulnerable from COVID-19

Alberta announces $68.5M towards protecting the vulnerable from COVID-19

There are a number of virtual and remote addiction and mental health supports and services available to Albertans at this time, including:

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The Mental Health Helpline

  • Provides confidential, anonymous service, including crisis intervention, information on mental health programs, and referrals to other agencies if needed.
  • The Mental Health Helpline is available at 1-877-303-2642.

Alberta Health Services’ Help in Tough Times

  • Provides links to supports and services, including addiction and mental health, available to Albertans.

AHS’ Text4Hope program

  • Free service providing three months of daily Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)-based text messages written by mental health therapists.


  • Clinically moderated, online peer-to-peer mental health community that empowers individuals to anonymously seek and provide support 24/7.
  • Togetherall is free to all Albertans aged 16+.

AHS’ virtual addiction and mental health services

  • Services and supports free to Albertans.

Alberta 211

  • Provides information, including support via phone, text, chat and website referrals and resources addiction and mental health referrals and resources.
  • Professionally trained specialists are available by texting INFO to 211, live chat through the website, or calling 2-1-1.

The Crisis Services Canada Suicide Prevention Service

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  • Offers a 24/7 helpline for people thinking about or affected by suicide via phone, text or chat (1-833-456-4566).

Kids Help Phone (expanded) 

  • Provides free, confidential 24/7 services for children, youth, and young adults.
  • Services include professional counselling by phone, and volunteer-led information and crisis support via phone, text, or chat.

Wellness Together Canada

  • Provides free online resources, tools, apps and connections to trained volunteers and qualified mental health professionals when needed.

The Crisis Text Line Alberta

  • Available 24-7
  • Offers information, referrals and volunteer-led, text based support for Albertans of all ages, by texting CONNECT to 741741.

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Strong But Not Silent: 4 men come together to talk about mental health

Strong But Not Silent: 4 men come together to talk about mental health – Nov 27, 2020

The Edmonton Police Service reported a slight increase in this type of call for service from 2019 to 2020.

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In 2019, there were 4,941 calls for service related to attempted suicide or suicide. In 2020, there were 4,953.

The number of people who lost their lives to suicide (reported to EPS) rose from 39 in 2019 to 61 in 2020.

Read more:
New technology focuses on mental wellness for Albertans during COVID-19 pandemic

“Check on Welfare” calls also rose, from 970 in 2019 to 1,194 in 2020.

Dr. Mukarram A. Zaidi, a family physician in Calgary.

Global News

Zaidi said the increase in mental health-related cases is also taking a toll on physicians, especially when there are multiple patients with complex needs.

“It takes a lot out of you,” he said.

Many of the patients he sees for severe depression come to him because they have no where else to go, Zaidi said.

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“People can’t afford to go to counselling, so while the patient came in for ‘not feeling well for some time’… after looking, bloodwork, asking them questions… It turns out they have severe depression and severe anxiety.”

Read more:
Two family doctors explain why they’re leaving Alberta: ‘Physicians are just feeling powerless’

Zaidi said he then talks with the patient about the diagnosis, discusses possible causes, symptoms and treatment options.

“Seeing 12 in a day? It’s a lot on our mental health as well.

“For my colleagues — family doctors and emergency doctors are under huge pressure.”

The sour relationship between the UCP government and doctors isn’t helping, he said.

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“We don’t have an agreement with the province about how we will be paid.”

Read more:
Alberta government ends master agreement with doctors; new rules coming April 1

On the election trail, Jason Kenney was focused on trimming Alberta’s health-care costs (42 per cent of the province’s operating costs) and often targeted physician pay.

Once elected, the United Conservatives passed Bill 21, which allowed the health minister to terminate the province’s physician compensation agreement with the Alberta Medical Association.

In February 2020, the master agreement was cancelled and Minister Tyler Shandro announced a number of changes to physicians’ pay. In July, the AMA released a survey showing 42 per cent of doctors who responded are thinking about leaving Alberta.

Read more:
Alberta doctors ‘beyond frustrated’ with virtual care app amid coronavirus crisis

“The stress that we are under since COVID started… we are in a negative balance,” Zaidi said. “But not even knowing what’s coming up next is a huge stress for family physicians.

“Not knowing if we can pay the bills and take care of patients.”

Where to get help

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide PreventionDepression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868  all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Deadly rabbit disease found in Ontario for the 1st time –



Two pet rabbits infected with a highly contagious virus that’s newly detected in Ontario have died, causing concern among veterinarians and pet owners.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said it’s the first time rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHDV-2) has been detected in Ontario. It previously was found in B.C. and Alberta. 

The virus is not known to cause disease in humans, according to both the United States Department of Agriculture and the CFIA.

The rabbits in the Ontario case were from the same household and previously healthy, according to Dr. Jamie McGill Worsley, a veterinarian in Forest in Lambton County. 

The rabbits quickly died. 

“This was devastating for a pet owner with no warning and initially no understanding,” she said, “As we did testing, we started to become more suspicious that maybe this [virus] was the case.”

Samples were sent to a lab. Earlier this month, the CFIA confirmed it was RHDV-2.

The source of the infection isn’t known, the agency said.

“Immediately following this, the CFIA placed a quarantine on the site,” the agency said in a statement. “An investigation has been completed and no high-risk contacts have been identified that could result in spread of the disease from this premise. The CFIA is collaborating with the province and continues to monitor the situation.”

The CFIA’s website says the virus is found in most European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Cuba and some parts of Asia and Africa, and there have been occasional outbreaks in the U.S. and Canada, in 2011, 2016 and 2018.

What is RHDV-2

According to the CFIA, the disease is highly contagious in wild and domestic rabbits. The virus doesn’t affect other species.

People can pick up the virus on their shoes — or even on their vehicle’s tires — through the feces of an infected rabbit, said McGill Worsley.

That’s one of the reasons there’s such concern, she said.

“It is very resilient in the environment. It’s very easy to spread around with microscopic amounts. And then, of course, the potential outcome of this virus, its impact on the rabbits, whether they’re wild or pet rabbits, is quite devastating,” said McGill Worsley, who has strengthened disinfection protocols at her clinic because of RHDV-2.

Dr. Jamie McGill Worsley of Forest Veterinary Clinic in Forest, Ont., shown with a pet rabbit at her clinic. McGill Worsley has strengthened disinfection protocols at her clinic because of RHDV-2. (Submitted by Jamie McGill Worsley )

The CFIA said infected rabbits usually show symptoms within one to five days. Symptoms include fever, loss of appetite and neurological symptoms such as difficulty walking.

“Death is common after a short period of illness. Death may also occur suddenly without signs,” the CFIA says in a fact sheet on its website.

Hazel Gabe of Ottawa is part of a Facebook group for rabbit owners where news of the virus has generated concern.

“People are really scared. People are very scared and nervous,” she said.

But for some, there’s a bit of relief, she said.

“Now that there’s been some cases in Ontario, even though we hate that some rabbits died and somebody probably lost their pet, but this means that maybe we will finally have access to the vaccine, because we’ve been asking for this for a while.”

 While other countries have vaccines that protect rabbits against the virus, they’re not readily available in Canada.

Hazel Gabe, shown with her pet rabbit, wants to see a vaccine against rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus become more widely available. (Sonya Varma/CBC)

In B.C., where there have been outbreaks, the government waited until there were a certain number of cases before offering an organized vaccine program.

McGill Worsley suspects it will be the same case in Ontario. But at this point, clinics have to request a special permit to import the vaccine from Spain or France, she said.

“It’s a bit of a process. I’ve worked part way through it myself … that way we can start to be able to protect rabbits once we have permission from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to bring those vaccines here.”

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Should I be worried about monkeypox? A doctor answers questions as the outbreak spreads – CBS News



The World Health Organization said June 25 that monkeypox wasn’t yet a public health emergency of international concern. More than 4,000 cases have been reported worldwide, with about 250 in the U.S. And with public health officials unable to follow all chains of transmission, they’re likely undercounting cases. Everyone should be aware of its symptoms, how it spreads, and the risks of it getting worse.

Q: Should I be worried about monkeypox?

The American public is currently at low risk for monkeypox. It is spreading among men who have sex with men, but it is only a matter of time before it spreads to others. As of June 27, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control had reported 10 cases among women. Monkeypox is generally a mild disease but can be serious or even deadly for people who are immunocompromised, pregnant women, a fetus or newborn, women who are breastfeeding, young children, and people with severe skin diseases such as eczema.

But monkeypox could become endemic in the U.S. and around the world if it continues to spread unchecked.

Q: How does monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox is a viral infection, a close cousin of smallpox. But it causes a much milder disease.

It is transmitted through close contact, including sex, kissing, and massage — any kind of contact of the penis, vagina, anus, mouth, throat, or even skin. In the current outbreak, monkeypox has primarily been transmitted sexually.

Condoms and dental dams will reduce but won’t prevent all transmission because they protect only against transmission to and from the skin and mucosal surfaces that are covered by those devices. It’s important to know that the virus can enter broken skin and penetrate mucous membranes, like in the eyes, nose, mouth, genitalia, and anus. Scientists don’t know whether monkeypox can be transmitted through semen or vaginal fluid.

Monkeypox can be transmitted through respiratory droplets or “sprays” within a few feet, but this is not thought to be a particularly efficient mode of transmission. Whether monkeypox could be transmitted through aerosols, as covid-19 is, is unknown, but it hasn’t been documented so far.

It is not known whether monkeypox can be transmitted when someone doesn’t have symptoms.

Q: What are the common symptoms of monkeypox?

Symptoms of monkeypox may develop up to 21 days after exposure and can include fevers and chills, swollen lymph nodes, rash, and headaches.

It is not known whether monkeypox always shows any or all of those symptoms.

Experts currently think monkeypox, like smallpox, will always cause at least some of these symptoms, but that belief is based on pre-1980 science, before there were more sophisticated diagnostic tests.

Q: What does the monkeypox rash look like?

The monkeypox rash usually starts with red spots and then evolves into fluid-filled and then pus-filled bumps that may look like blisters or pimples. The bumps then open into sores and scab over. People with monkeypox should be considered infectious until after the sores scab over and fall off. Monkeypox sores are painful. The rash was often seen on palms and soles in the past, but many people in this outbreak have experienced external and internal lesions of the mouth, genitalia, and anus. People may also experience rectal pain or the sensation of needing to have a bowel movement when their bowels are empty.

Q: How do I get tested for monkeypox?

If you have symptoms of monkeypox, including oral, genital, or anal lesions, go to your nearest sexual health clinic for testing. A medical professional should swab any suspicious lesion for testing. There’s also emerging evidence that throat swabs may be useful in screening for monkeypox, but health officials in the U.S. are so far not recommending them.

People consult about monkeypox vaccination at a clinic in New York City on June 24, 2022.

Liao Pan/China News Service via Getty Images

Q: Is there a vaccine for monkeypox?

Yes. Two vaccines are effective in preventing monkeypox: the Jynneos vaccine and the ACAM2000 vaccine. The FDA has approved the Jynneos vaccine for preventing monkeypox and smallpox among people 18 and older. The ACAM2000 is FDA-approved to prevent smallpox. The U.S. is currently using only the Jynneos vaccine because it’s safer and has fewer side effects.

The Jynneos vaccine is safe. It has been tested in thousands of people, including people who are immunocompromised or have skin conditions. Common side effects of the Jynneos vaccine are similar to those of other vaccines and include fevers, fatigue, swollen glands, and irritation at the injection site.

The Jynneos vaccine is effective in preventing monkeypox disease up to four days after exposure and may reduce the severity of symptoms if given up to 14 days after exposure.

Q: Can I be vaccinated against monkeypox?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends vaccination against smallpox and monkeypox only for those at heightened risk: people who have had close contact with someone with monkeypox, as well as some health care workers, laboratory staffers, first responders, and members of the military who might come into contact with the affected.

Supplies of the Jynneos vaccine are limited. As of June 14, the strategic national stockpile held more than 72,000 doses. The U.S. government purchased 500,000 more doses this month, bringing the total number of doses bought to almost 2 million.

New York City expanding access to monkeypox vaccine as virus spreads across U.S.


The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has started offering the Jynneos vaccine to gay and bisexual men, other men who have sex with men, and trans women who are age 18 and older and have had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the past 14 days. Other big cities, including San Francisco, are expected to do the same.

Q: What are other ways to lower the risk of monkeypox transmission?

The best way is to educate yourself and your sex partners about monkeypox. If you’re worried you might have monkeypox, get tested at a sexual health clinic. Many emergency rooms, urgent care centers, and other health care facilities may not be up to date on monkeypox. The CDC link to find the nearest sexual health clinic is

Abstain from sex if you or your partner has monkeypox. And remember that condoms and dental dams can reduce but not eliminate the risk of transmission. The CDC also warns about the risk of going to raves or other parties where lots of people are wearing little clothing and of saunas and sex clubs. It has other suggestions like washing sex toys and bedding.

Q: Is there a treatment for monkeypox?

There is no proven, safe treatment specifically for monkeypox. Most cases of monkeypox are mild and improve without treatment over a couple of weeks. Medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be used to reduce fevers and muscle aches, and medications like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and opioids may be used for pain. In rare cases, some patients —such as immunocompromised people, pregnant women, a fetus or newborn, women who are breastfeeding, young children, and people with severe skin diseases — will develop more severe illness and may require more specific treatment. Doctors are trying experimental therapies like cidofovir, brincidofovir, tecovirimat, and vaccinia immune globulin. If administered early in the course of infection, the Jynneos and ACAM2000 vaccines may also help reduce the severity of disease.

Q: What misinformation is circulating about monkeypox?

Conspiracy theories about monkeypox abound. Monkeypox is not a hoax. Monkeypox is real. Covid vaccines can’t give you monkeypox. Monkeypox was not invented by Bill Gates or pharmaceutical companies. Monkeypox didn’t come from a lab in China or Ukraine. Migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border haven’t brought monkeypox into the U.S. Monkeypox isn’t a ploy to allow for mail-in ballots during elections. There is no need for a monkeypox vaccine mandate or lockdowns due to monkeypox.

Dr. Céline Gounder, an internist, epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist, is Senior Fellow and Editor-at-Large for Public Health at Kaiser Health News.

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.

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Peel Region reports its first confirmed case of monkeypox – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News



Peel Region has its first confirmed case of monkeypox.

According to Peel Public Health, the person infected is an adult male in his 30s who lives in Mississauga.

The heath unit said the risk to the public remains low.

Monkeypox, which comes from the same virus family as smallpox, spreads though close contact with an infected individual. Most transmission happens through close contact with the skin lesions of monkeypox, but the virus can also be spread by large droplets or by sharing contaminated items.

To reduce risk of infection, people are advised to be cautious when engaging in intimate activities with others. Vaccination is available for high-risk contacts of cases and for those deemed at high risk of exposure to monkeypox.

Symptoms can include fever, headache, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash/lesions, which could appear on the face or genitals and then spread to other areas.

Anyone who develops these symptoms should contact their healthcare provider and avoid close contact with others until they have improved and rash/lesions have healed.

While most people recover on their own without treatment, those who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for monkeypox should self-monitor for symptoms, and contact PPH to see if they are eligible for vaccination.

The Mississauga case is at least the 34th confirmed case of the disease in Ontario, with dozens more under investigation.

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