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Has anyone been signed off work by their GP with anxiety?


Hi, I was just wondering if anyone has been signed off with anxiety? I'm really struggling to be honest! Work hasn't been great the past year or two, on top of covid and all the anxieties and stess that has brought with working in a nursery on top of having underlying health conditions... to top it all, a colleague who is also a very good friend caught covid and was in a coma and spent over a month in itu, my parents both caught covid over Christmas, my Dad thank goodness has managed to recover well at home, my Mum spent a week in hospital but thank goodness is home and making small improvements every day... I contacted my GP surgery yesterday as my boss is pressuring me to come back and I am in no way ready, got told that I could be signed off for 2 weeks no issue and it would be sent through, contacted my boss who was not happy but had to accept I'd been signed off, however I had a phone call late this afternoon from someone at my surgery to say it had been refused because they weren't dealing with covid... she did eventually backtrack when she realised how upset I was, and said I'd have to ring to speak to someone tomorrow morning but reiterated that they weren't dealing with anything at all with any relation to covid! Cue another panic attack resulting in needing my inhaler! I was just wondering if anyone else here has been signed off with anxiety, and if so how they did it? As an aside, I've been doing mindfulness, and walking with my dogs since I've been out of isolation for fresh air and exercise which has helped but I'm still nowhere near ready to return to work! Sorry for the long post, thank you! X

40 Replies

Hi, I think they may have misinterpreted what you are saying and thinking it is you infected. You may hav to keep it specific to anxiety. Lead with the anxiety, don’t even say what is causing I until they are taking it in. If it is reception, really don’t say anything about covid, just say “mental health.”

They are correct in saying they don’t deal with covid infection but the rest they are! I think they are hearing the c word and forgetting everything else.

Look after yourself x

Nicki-Lou123 in reply to Dogruff

Thank you so much! I know, I'm wishing I didn't actually mention my Mum! I won't be tomorrow, I'll keep insisting if I have to until they let me speak to a doctor! She even asked me if I had been tested, and I said I had been and was negative and have had no symptoms, she was so lovely and understanding so I didn't even give it a second thought until I had the call this afternoon! Thank you so much for replying, take care x

Did you actually speak to a GP? If not I would request a GP phone appointment and discuss it with them. They can't say they're only dealing with covid and your anxiety may have been exacerbated by covid but I'm sure it's not all that (but even it if is then it's still valid). Speaking to a GP would be useful anyway as they may be able to suggest some medication to help too and, if so, time off while it kicks in would be common too. But I think you do need to speak to a GP - for yourself anyway but also regarding being signed off. If you're asked what it's about either say severe anxiety or mental health issues - or say it's personal if you'd rather not tell the receptionist. And if they ask if it's urgent, yes it is. It's hard enough feeling like that and taking the step to acknowledge it is hard too. But responses you've had do not help.

Thank you so much... no, I specifically asked to speak to someone about it and she asked if i needed a fit note, took details, suggested 2 weeks and she said it was all sorted and would be sent over to me! Which it obviously isn't :( I won't be making the same mistake tomorrow, I'll insist on speaking to a GP, like you said it may be that they can suggest other things to help that I haven't thought of, which was one of the reason I specifically asked to speak to a GP yesterday... thank you, no the response of who I spoke to this afternoon really didn't help at all, cue the panic attack, although I feel a bit calmer now after doing some breathing exercises, I felt so much better yesterday after they initially said I could have two weeks off, the best I have felt in ages if I'm being totally honest, and this afternoons phone call has really put me off phoning and going through it again, especially as she told me I wouldn't be able to speak to anyone until tomorrow, but I know I need to do it because it has proved that I am definitely not ready... thank you x

If the GP is good it might be worth mentioning that you were given the impression they were only dealing with covid and, while you understand they're busy with that, actually this is important too (as are other things) and receiving that response was really distressing.

I hope tomorrow you get to speak to someone because mental health is important and is often harder to say "yes I need help" with. I've been there in the past, as I suspect many others have as well, and you're doing the right thing - you just don't need this to be a mountain to climb too!

Thank you so much... these forums are so helpful to speak to people that actually understand, I can't even begin to put in to words how much that helps... Yeah, I definitely intend to state how distressing it was and how it caused a panic attack and needed my inhaler... thank you, I find it so much easier to put in writing how I'm feeling as I find it so much harder to actually talk and say how I'm feeling out loud, but I know I have to do it because that's the best thing I can do in order to feel better, I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that I can get somewhere tomorrow! Thank you so much x

I don’t understand. Did you not speak to a Gp? No one else can sign you off sick. Also a gp should discuss with you ways forward not just signing you off and nothing else.

Nicki-Lou123 in reply to Bevvy

No, I guess it was the receptionist, I asked to speak to a GP, she asked a load of questions, asked if I needed a fit note, she suggested 2 weeks, took some details and said that it would be signed and sent over to me... my Mum had the same thing too when she had to request a fit note as she isn't well enough to work yet, hers was signed and sent back to her no issue though. I agree though, it doesn't seem right x

Bevvy in reply to Nicki-Lou123

This is so so wrong. It is NOT the role of a receptionist to make medical decisions. I understand that you are not in a good place at the moment but can someone else raise this with practice manager. This is extremely dangerous practice.

Nicki-Lou123 in reply to Bevvy

Thank you... obviously I completely understand the situation drs are in, but like you said it isn't good, things like this shouldn't be happening! I will raise this when I speak to someone tomorrow x

Hi I was signed off work with by my GP back in June/July with Anxiety. I was offered four weeks but opted for two weeks and review, I ended up being signed off for four weeks.

I am really surprised you have been offered a fit note by the receptionist without consultation? What about your anxiety, what advice have you been given? Are you eating and sleeping OK? Are you in a hyperactive heightened state? You may need some pharmacological help? Being off work may be the best medicine as you are struggling with being at work, but there are other issues and factors that need to be consulted on. A GP may decide a course of talking therapy.

I would insist on a telephone consultation with your GP tomorrow. I think your surgery are operating a dangerous practice.

When you return to work you may wish to do a phased return to work. Work should offer special adjustment measures to assist your return or send you to Occupational health for an assessment. Take care of yourself you seem under a lot of stress, untreated anxiety can cause an overload of stress hormones which could have a big effect on your physical as well as mental health. Insist your surgery take your anxiety seriously. xx

Thank you so much for your reply! I really hope you're doing better now? Anxiety sucks :( Yeah, I was surprised too, but to be honest I was so relieved when she offered me the fit note that I didn't really think too much more of it... no, I've had no advice at all, even from who I spoke to tonight who could tell how panicked and upset I got when she kept insisting I couldn't have the fit note! The advice I've had has come from lovely people on here and from Google searches! Sleeping isn't awful but isn't great either, I can drift off no issue most nights, but actually staying asleep all night just doesn't happen! Eating not too bad, although I don't have much appetite.... I don't feel hyperactive, if I'm honest totally the opposite, I just feel very emotional and tearful... as for work, my boss just doesn't seem to get it.. when I spoke to her yesterday she wasn't happy at all I was off but had to accept it... I don't think she would agree to a phased return either but I think I will just have to keep pushing for what I need... thank you so much for your reply xx

I am much better now thank you, it has taken 3 months for me to return to my normal. You GP should advise you regarding phased return to work when you feel ready to return. Your manager would be very silly to dismiss this request unless she wants to risk a possible unfair dismissal due to ill health. You will be anxious when you return and if you are not treated sympathetically and put under too much pressure you could find yourself back to stage 1 again.

I am not a medical professional but work and advise emotionally distressed people in MH. I typed ‘hyper’and checker must have changed it to hyperactive. I meant that your fight and flight system is stuck in heightened arousal, not that you are hyperactive. This can be problematic if kept like this for a long time. The fact you have no appetite would suggest this is the case, when stressed you nervous systems are preparing to either flee or fight either way it will suppress your appetite. While you feel like this eat little and often, you will not manage to eat a large meal until this system calms down. Difficulty sleeping, resist going to sleep early in the hope to catch up from the restless night before. Go to sleep when you can hardly keep your eyes open, this will give you a deeper better quality of sleep and prevent worry and stress if you are finding it difficult to sleep once in bed.

Your Gp should ask you tomorrow these questions and advise appropriately. They should also monitor you to make sure your anxiety is going in the right direction after a period of time. They can also offer CBT and other talking therapies, should be the gold standard, but I know not everybody is lucky to be offered this. Best wishes

Thank you so much! I am so glad to hear that you're doing much better now xx I will definitely take any advice from my GP about phased return etc, if nothing else, seeing what my parents have been through/are going through has taught me that health has got to come above any job! Yeah, I guess that too, I was furloughed last year (after having to refuse to work during an asthma flare) and ended up off for 3 months as we did eventually close, I was so anxious going back but luckily we were on a phased reopening for the children so we only worked a 3 day week to begin with...Thank you so so much for all your advise and tips, I really appreciate it! Thank you xx

I suffer from chronic anxiety and any dr will treat it with respect. I agree with Lou.

You may need something as well as a couple of weeks off sick?? Some talking therapy? Maybe even some tablets for a while.

I suspect you may also have expert receptionist syndrome. I’ve had this In the past. The asthma nurse at that practice told me a really neat trick that works every time.

She said, when I make the appt just say “it’s a private matter” or just type private. No one, other than a dr can question this. Receptionist included. Is a good way to get around receptionist issues and it might not be a bad idea for you to chat with the dr??

I do hope you get things sorted, in a way that suits you

Nicki-Lou123 in reply to Ts777

Thank you! I hope you’re doing okay and you’ve been able to get the help and support you need! I really hope so! I’m waiting to phone at 8... but I’m so worried they won’t help.. I know I’m being silly though and they are bound to do something to help me surely! Thank you, that’s a useful tip to know and I’ll try that if the receptionist this morning starts questioning, thank you! Thank you for replying xx

Hi. I’m so sorry to hear that so many people around you have been poorly with covid. I can understand how anxious you must feel. I think the GP surgery may have got hold of the wrong end of the stick. From what you have said it sounds like they think that you have Covid and you are asking for a sick note. Maybe contact them again and explain that you are having panic attacks and cannot do the job of caring for small children at the moment because it would not be safe. Best wishes.

Thank you! Just had a phone call from the loveliest practice nurse, she was so good and helpful to talk to, and without even asking she issued me with the note! Thank you for replying xx

Oh brilliant news!

Hi, I'm sorry to hear about your parents but so glad to hear that they're recovering. It's a terrible virus and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I completely understand the anxiety you're feeling, and echo the above people who say that you need to speak to them again and ask to directly speak with the GP as receptionists shouldn't be giving any sort of medical advice. Anxiety is horrible especially at the moment. You could also maybe try Mind for some therapy or CBT, it worked wonders for me last year. :) xx

Thank you so much for replying! I have just come off the phone to the loveliest practice nurse who was so lovely and helpful to talk to, without question she issued me the fit note! She recommended the headspace app which I’ve signed up to, and I’ve self referred to a counselling service at the local hospice where my Mum works for people who have been affected by COVID so I’m feeling a bit more positive knowing there are things in place, thank you! X

That's fab I'm so pleased for you! :) I've used Headspace before, those kinds of apps are so useful and hopefully you will find benefit in them. I'm so happy that you've managed to find good support xx

Thank you so much! It was such a relief to speak to someone who was so lovely... fingers crossed things will improve now with things in place xx

Goodness, this email resonated so much with myself! Thankfully my parents have reminded safe but there is so much fear in my trying to keep them that way. I live alone and have no family so I am solely responsible for myself and my parents. It has been incredibly tough, scary, lonely, and I manage a team remotely which I have felt responsible for. The company I work for made and continue to make no effort to support or to make any tangible effort to support anyone. I was off for 4 wks with anxiety and stress last year and I too was subjected to pressure to return and no understanding of how I was being impacted. In fact my workload has increased and I have suffered retribution and aggression from my line manager. I am again feeling physically sick, migraines, anxiety and panic attacks One of which resulted in an ambulance call out! I should be asking to be signed off until I can regain some sanity but I know that I will be treated as a problem and my manager will press for disciplinary under the capability policy as she has threatened this already indirectly in calls, nothing is ever written. Tough times, you are not alone, sadly xx

Nicki-Lou123 in reply to Welland

Oh bless you, I am so sorry to read this, it is so so tough, without work hassle! I have already had an email asking if my fit note has come through (even though I can actually self cert this week anyway!)! I’m just ignoring for now! Just come off the phone to the loveliest nurse at my surgery who was so lovely and so helpful to talk to, she has signed me off no questions asked so just waiting for it to come through! Yeah, it is such tough times, hope you can get some help and support too, like the nurse I just spoke to said, I have to look after myself in order to look after my parents and support them in their recovery, stay safe and well, and thank you again for replying. It means so much to know I’m not alone xx

Just an update... spoke to one of the practice nurses who was so lovely! She just listened to me and was so helpful with strategies and practical things that may help me.. she even suggested medication but we chatted and we both said that as I’ve self referred to talking therapy with a group set up at our local hospice where my Mum works for anyone affected by COVID, I’m going to see how that goes first before I decide on medication, she said I can just call any time if I want to! Such a relief to actually speak to someone who actually listened to me and she was so lovely! She has also done the fit note no questions asked so hopefully that will come through soon and it will keep my boss happy! I’ve already had an email from her asking for it this morning! Bearing in mind that technically I can self cert this week anyway! X

So glad you've spoken to someone and someone who was lovely, and that you've got a plan that you're happy with for now. Your boss sounds very annoying tbh. Now you're signed off she shouldn't be contacting you so I hope she doesn't pester you!

Thank you so much, it means so much to know I’m not alone, and it was such a massive relief to speak to someone who could help me and there are things in place to move forward! Yep, doesn’t surprise me though, when I called in on Monday she just keep talking work! But hopefully she’ll stop when she gets the note x

Bevvy in reply to Nicki-Lou123

Excellent news. Pleased you can take some time for yourself.

I’m so glad you spoken to someone 😁😁😁😁

Nicki-Lou123 in reply to Ts777

Thank you, I do feel a bit better now, especially as she was so lovely and helpful with practical things to move forward, fingers crossed x

So glad you have found the nurse helpful and I hope you start your counselling soon. Best wishes on your recovery.

While you are off work ask your manager not to contact you while you are recovering. She may insist under the ploy of ‘duty of care’ if that is the case agree a time frame for contact and no work related information to be discussed. Take your time to heal. It will depend on your works contract, but don’t be bullied to return before you are ready. ACAS is a good source of information. xx

Thank you! I think it’s Monday the counsellor will be in touch so fingers crossed!

Thank you for the advice! I hope now she’s had my fit note she’ll stop! Although she did send me an email back saying unfortunately due the reason on my fit note I will only be entitled to statutory sick pay? I don’t know what she thought I was expecting! That’s all I thought I would get? I’m not worried about the money side of things anyway I’m so fortunate to have savings as well so I don’t have any kind of financial pressure luckily! I have just ignored it though, and hopefully she’ll stop otherwise I will seek further advice, thank you xx

Your sick pay entitlement is what your contract states, which is an occupational sick pay i.e. full pay then reduces to half after so long.

But this is only after working so long, so if you haven't been there long would be SSP.

Read your contract of employment, as a fit note is sickness for any employment area.

So I would definitely check that out. If needed check with Union and ACAS further. Just because you signed off with anxiety does not mean SSP only its dependant on your contract, length of service and who you work for i.e. private or state.

Sorry to hear about your parents.

I totally get the anxiety, as I work in a school but I am CEV so shielding but will be expected back in once lifted. A few apps which are good are Calm Mind, Headspace, also CBT online via IAPT services.

Thank you for replying! I just don’t understand why she said that, I know I’m entitled to SSP but I just don’t understand what else she thought I was thinking I was entitled to if that makes sense?

Thank you for the recommendations, I’ve found Headspace really helpful! X

No sure, but when off sick usually full pay for so long in all my experience. You have so much entitlement to it then its SSP.

Hi Nicki, Wow, you have good reason for anxiety! The problem with most asthma meds is that they make you shaky. My Doc has given me light doses of Xanax which helps me soooo much. I take Xanax along with any steroid, or maybe after a breathing treatment. Maybe try to find some kind of drug that will help relax you. It also helps relax the lungs. If ever I have to go to the ER, they always give me Xanax there.

Hope this helps and hope you feel better.

Thank you! That is very true! I never really had much side effects like that unless I need to use more than a couple of puffs of Ventolin at once, especially since I got changed to Fostair last year with the long lasting reliever in it... I’m so fortunate though that my asthma is pretty well controlled the majority of the time so I don’t really use Ventolin that often.. although I have needed it a couple of times when I’ve become really anxious and tight chested (although I think a lot of that is anxiety and not actually asthma!)

Thank you, the nurse did say to me yesterday that they could prescribe medication for me to try and help, bee discussed it and decided that I would try talking therapies first and see how I respond to that, and I know it’s only a phone call away if I want to try it... thank you for your reply xx

Your local iapt/pws may offer cbt for health anxiety or cbt for those with long term physical health conditions. Worth giving them a call to see.

There is also a fantastic website that has various worksheets and work books you can use called getselfhelp. Therapists have been known to use the print outs for their sessions.

Headspace is amazing. I use it myself a couple of times a week.

Nicki-Lou123 in reply to Dogruff

Thank you so much! Have my first session with a counsellor on Monday so will see how that goes... thanks for the website too, I haven’t heard of getselfhelp but I will check it out! I too have found Headspace really helpful too... I’ve found it so helpful just to take myself off for a short time and do some of the exercises, and I’ve found some of the nighttime ones quite calming and relaxing too! Thank you x

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