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Mental and emotional problems are very common and all our doctors are used to treating them – work in psychiatry is a significant part of a GP’s training.
Everyone has times in their life when they feel rather anxious or sad, and this is quite normal, particularly after a distressing event such as a divorce or bereavement. However sometimes these feelings can become so severe that they stop you being able to live your normal life, so that it is difficult or even impossible to cope with work, or with family commitments. Or perhaps there is just no pleasure in life anymore, and you can’t even find a reason why this should be. If things have become this bad, it may be that you are experiencing a mental illness rather than just a “normal downturn” and it may be a good idea to talk things over with your doctor.
The very idea of having a mental illness such as depression can be quite frightening, but up to 25% of adults have an episode of depression at some time in their lives, so it is not at all uncommon, and certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Most people find that once they see a doctor they are starting on the path to recovery.
There is not space here to give details on specific mental health problems, but some very good leaflets are available on these links:
In terms of treatments, your doctor can offer a range of treatments including both medications and ‘talking treatments’. Modern antidepressants are not habit-forming or addictive; there are several different types available and your doctor can discuss the options with you to decide which is likely to suit you best. Alternatively, or in addition, you may choose a ‘talking treatment’ such as counselling or psychological therapy: again, your doctor can advise on what is likely to suit you best, and how to access it. Most talking therapies are available free on the NHS, although waiting lists can be long; alternatively the doctors can advise on finding a private counsellor or psychologist.
Some leaflets about treatments can be found here:
If you have read this far, you may still be wondering whether to come in and see the doctor about your problems. Why not pick up the phone and make that appointment to talk it through? You don’t need to give the receptionist any details, just say it is a personal matter. The first time, ask for a 20 minute appointment so you and your doctor have some extra time to talk.
Dr Sarah Annetts
Counselling - NHS Choices
Mental Health - NHS Choices
Videos from NHS Choices:
Dr Stephen Pilling, a consultant clinical psychologist, describes the different talking therapies that can help people overcome a range of problems, from depression to stress.
Phils brother Simon has a mental illness. The brothers explain how mutual support has helped them to cope with the illness.