Not all doctors are created equal. Your local doctor might know everything there is to know about gastric, influenza and genital warts but if they don’t know much about mental illness, ask them someone who does. A good doctor won’t be offended.

Next, book a long appointment as mental illness is not something you can cover off in ten minutes. Tell the receptionist you need half an hour.

Before going, write down all your symptoms. Don’t rely on your memory because when you’re ill it may not be functioning all that well. An hour after you walk out from the doctor’s you’ll remember three things you meant to say but didn’t (while also forgetting where you parked the car).

If you’re feeling particularly bad, think about taking a friend with you to ensure there’s no miscommunication. They can fill in missing gaps and be far more accurate than you.

Also, be entirely open and frank with your doctor. If you feel really miserable for example, don’t fob it off as a being a bit down. This is especially pertinent to men. Down-playing your problems may seem the manly thing to do but it’s only going to leave you feeling lousier later. Being straight up will help get an accurate diagnosis, a sensible plan of action and better faster.

If your doctor prescribes medication don’t feel embarrassed or weak. If you had a dose of the flu and you were prescribed drugs you wouldn’t think twice and nor should you now. Also, remember to ask about potential side effects and how long the drugs will take to kick in? Some drugs work in days while others take weeks so you need to be realistic with your expectations. There’s no miracle overnight cure and no need to feel concerned if you’re not feeling fantastic two days later.

Similarly, it could be that your GP suggests you see a psychologist or psychiatrist. If that’s the case, don’t panic. If you get the right one, they can make a huge difference

Here’s some further information, straight from the government’s mouth:

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