It’s normal to feel low or have feelings of anxiety from time to time particularly when facing a life change or challenging event.

If you’ve been feeling low or very anxious and this is affecting your day-to-day life, you should consider going to see a GP (doctor). GPs see many people every week who are concerned about their mental health. They can support you and give advice on the best next steps to take. 

If you (or someone close to you) have noticed changes in the way you’re feeling or behaving, consider if you’re experiencing any of the following:

  • Have you lost interest in activities which you would normally find enjoyable?
  • Have you started to avoid anything due to feeling anxious?
  • Are you experiencing a particular issue that is causing you concern – this could be, for example, feelings of panic, self-harm or seeing or hearing things that other people do not see or hear?
  • Are you feeling moody or overreacting more often than usual?
  • Do you have a poor appetite or have been over-eating?
  • Are you feeling tired and finding it hard to concentrate or sleep?
  • Are you lacking energy and finding it hard to perform day-to-day tasks?
  • Are you feeling guilty or distressed about how you’re feeling and starting to withdraw from friends or relatives?

It’s especially important to talk to your GP – or someone else who can help – if you’re feeling hopeless or struggling to cope. If you need to see someone quickly, ask your surgery about arranging an urgent appointment or book it online. Remember you can always talk to someone about how you’re feeling at any time of the day or night.

Being prepared for a GP appointment

It can be nerve-wracking speaking to someone that you may not know well about your mental health.

You may be worried about bothering a GP with your problem. GPs are there to help with your mental health as well as your physical health – around one third of all GP appointments are related to mental health. You can take a family member or friend along with you to the appointment if it will make you feel more at ease.

Make sure you take time to prepare for your appointment. Write down any main points that you want to talk about as well as any questions you might have. This could include information about how you’re feeling and how this is affecting your day-to-day life, as well as any physical symptoms.

The GP may talk through some possible options with you which might include:

You can ask your GP why a particular treatment has been suggested and if other things might help. Make some notes about what is discussed, if you need to.

If a GP prescribes a medication, they should talk to you about how this should help and tell you about any possible side effects. If you have any issues or concerns about your medicines, you should speak to a GP, pharmacist or nurse to help you to find a solution that most suits you.

  • The Doc Ready website can guide you through preparing for a GP appointment step-by-step.
  • The mental health charity Mind has produced a helpful video and guide called ‘Find the words’ about talking to a GP about mental health. 

How to register with a GP

If you’re not registered with a GP, NHS.uk has information about how to find and register with a GP surgery.

Accessible Information Standard

All GP surgeries are legally required to follow the Accessible Information Standard. This means that if you are Deaf, deaf or Deafblind you can:

  • receive the communication support you need (for example a BSL-English interpreter or speech-to-text reporter) during a GP consultation
  • ask for information to be provided in an accessible format (this may mean test results sent by SMS or emails in plain English for example)
  • request the way in which the surgery contacts you (by email for example)