Asthma UK community forum

DR ""it's all in your head"" ""go home and tell yourself that you are fine

Friday I had an appointment with the asthma nurse who gave me symbicort because my peak flow was only 300 and it was apparent that Ventolin wasn't enough. My breathing last night and today has been poor and my chest and upper back really hurts so I made an emergency appointment with a doctor (which was advised from the asthma nurse if I got worse or if the symbicort didn't help).

I have a long history of mental health problems so it's no surprise that the Dr automatically presumes it's in my head. She listened to my chest which was clear but my pulse was high and I had the shakes (no surprise as I couldn't breath). She told me that she had spoke to my regular Dr and that it is probably best I make an appointment with her as she wants to see me, again applying my mental health needs reviewing then told me to go home and tell myself that ""I am fine""!

I'm extremely annoyed and embarrassed regarding what she thinks. I'm still struggling with my breathing and am in a lot of pain and I know this isn't just in my head!

i'm sorry i just needed to vent.

19 Replies

No wonder u need to vent! I'd be very unhappy in your shoes!!

As you will see from other posts the saying "" your chest sounds clear"" is one that annoys a lot of us. We've all been there and been told that when we know full well our lungs aren't happy.

I wish Drs would listen to what we tell thrm regardless of other conditions, asthma is not something to be ignored.

Make an appointment with your usual gp and explain how you are feeling, if you can note down your peak flow reafings, symptoms and medications taken to try to control it.

Take care x


Thank you for your reply, i'm not keen on seeing any Dr now after that experience in case they all just think i'm a head case but I will take your advice.

Thank you


I can sympathise as I have no history at all of mental health issues and that still didn't stop 2 consultants implying it was all in my head - luckily my GP didn't buy it. But must be so much harder if you do have that history as then they just assume it's all that..because of course it's completely impossible to have asthma as well...what did they learn in med school? I swear some drs still think asthma is a mental illness, which they used to think in the 19th century but you'd hope would have stopped now.

I hope your usual GP is better than that and able to tell the difference between your head and your lungs!


This GP contacted my usual GP as soon as I rang for an emergency appointment, I'm assuming that my normal Dr gave her a tester of my history as the Dr I saw today said my normal Dr wants to see me.

I think it's wrong that they are diagnosing me in relation to my past history.

Thank you for your understanding.


You're welcome. :) Could you try another GP in the practice who is neither of these two, but might be willing to focus on your asthma? I guess you can see the usual one but if they say the same then worth trying another one? Some of the ones in my practice I never see if I can help it.


You need to change doctors! How dare they just assume something without really looking into it? A ""clear"" chest can be a bad sign and doctors should know this. I am always relieved when they say that I have a very obvious and bad wheeze because they cannot argue with that!!! Maybe a visit to A&E if you can manage to get there? The main thing is do not give up if you are ill. It needs sorting and the medics need to get their fingers out and not prejudge you or anyone else. Good luck and I do hope you feel better very soon.


I think that's a very good idea, I will still go see my usual Dr and see what she has to say or else she will start sending me letters again XD. I'll keep persewing it even if it means seeing a different Dr at a different surgery.


I really feel for you, and too think this is terrible. Please ignore their rude assumptions and seek the medical attention you need and deserve, you are the best person to know whether your body is working or not! Take care xxx


Pauline, I'm discussed regarding what she said especially when she told me to go home and to tell myself that I am fine. I was on my way to urgent care when the emergency Dr called me and told me to come into the surgery. What also shocked me is when she told me to stop taking my ventolin and just take the symbicort.


What????!! WHy would you tell someone to stop taking their reliever?! This could have been really dangerous. I definitely think you need to switch drs if your usual one doesn't see a problem with this.


Thank you all

I'm glad i'm not the only person who thinks this was out of order x x


You're not alone in this. I came across this attitude as a child in the 1970s - also they suggested that my mother's anxiety was causing my asthma (remember being cross about that). Locum also once told me my very poorly son was hyperventilating, not asthma at all! I think it's because asthma can be hard to diagnose and hard to treat, also everyone is different. Good luck and I hope things improve for you.


That doctor was very out of order. I'd be fuming if a doctor said that to me. I think you should ring the practice and ask to speak to the practice manager. Don't put off seeking help if you start to feel worse because of what was said , either contact your out of hours GP service or go to a and e.

Good luck



Alittlelost are you using your symbicort on the SMART regieme? If so you can use it as both reliever and preventor. If you are your doctor should have given you advice on how and when to use it and the maximum doses to use. If this was the case it would explain why GP said not to use ventollin...


hi Alittlelost - i'm not surprised that you are feeling so lost. not only are your lungs being naughty, with the resultant fatigue, and medications that make you shake and make you feel horrid, but then your GP is so dreadful! i agree with others, ring the practice manager and ask to make a complaint. but in the meantime you say your PEF is 300, i wonder what your personal best is, as anything between 50% - 80% of your personal best can mean that your asthma is not under control and that you are at more risk of a serious asthma attack. if mine was at 300 i would be taking myself (or having Islandmedic take me) to the local Out Of Hours GP or Walk In Clinic. i have on occasion (for different ailments) taken myself to OOH as you get to see a GP that isnt your usual one, and then get treated with what you present with, rather than what your usual GP would expect you to present with. The OOH GP's dont know your medical history and tend to just treat the symptoms. i would suggest you try to see a medical professional, either a different GP in your practice, or asthma nurse, or OOH before the Easter weekend break. you could also ring the Asthma Nurse number at the top of the screen as they are excellently helpful.

take care and NO asthma is NOT in your head! xx ><>


Thank you once again for you replies

I'm not on the smart method or at least I wasn't told I was. After seeing the asthma nurse Friday, she gave me the symbicort becasue the releier didn't seem to make a lot of difference. After half hour of using it I would be struggling again.

As for my personal best, it's 400 ish, I've only done a peak flow reading three times all at the doctors, 400, 350 then 300. 430 is average for my age and hight I believe.

I first got diagnosed with panic attacks, but I know full well that panic attacks done leave you breathless for days. After a few weeks of constantly pestering the doctors my peak flow was finally done and I got diagnosed with mild asthma. But now it would seem my diagnoses is panic attacks again which I think is rubbish.


I've had this problem before, I've been on long term anti-depressants and seen a few doctors who've said it's in my head. To be fair the last one in A&E who said that was suitably embarrassed when a medical doctor examined me and I ended up in hospital for 5 days pretty ill. My consultant tore him a new one and he doesn't treat me any more. But it does seem to be that doctors, especially if they don't know you, will jump to conclusions. It's really annoying and really unprofessional. You've always got the right to say that you don't want to see a particular doctor though and they have to honour that. There's one gp in my surgery who told me that I needed an asthma plan when I saw her, given that I've had one for 21 years even my regular gp burst out laughing when I told her!!

Make sure you stand up for yourself and they'll start to listen!


I understand how it feels to be dismissed like that by a GP.

I turned up at my surgery once breathless, tight chested, reliever not helping. And do you know what he said? He told me to go for a brisk walk around town and go back to work. He didn't even listen to my chest. :-0 Later that night I was in A&E.

I really don't understand them sometimes.


I've had this lots of times too (MH history as well)! It's so annoying/frustrating and really puts you off getting help but please don't!

Despite what a couple of doctors have said in consultations, I've never not been treated when I'm actually unwell in a&e/GP's/ooh etc. If your sats are low, your pulse and resps are high then you will be treated, no question about it. Doctors know the difference between an asthma attack and a panic attack, especially in an emergency situation. It tends to be the rare idiotic GP or consultant that tries to blame it on MH problems, but you know in yourself when it's physical and when it's not. If a GP won't treat you then please get your self to A&E or a walk-in-centre. Don't be put off by an experience like this, because even though it seems awful at the time (been there done that) it's a rarity and most doctors wouldn't dream of saying/doing that. If you need to, move GP's and find one that will listen to you.

I really hope you can find a GP that listens, because it is so frustrating when doctors try to claim everything is in your mind just because of your history. When it happened to me, I was told that the doctor was only really saying that because they were incompetent, didn't know what to do and were frustrated and it's very true! Most people with asthma (espec on the more severe end) will have at some point been told it's in their head!

PM if you want to chat more



You may also like...