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Expecting GP to diagnose depression - shall I go off sick and what do I tell work?

(15 Posts)
zoggs Wed 28-Jan-09 13:57:18

Going to see GP tomorrow and fully expect him to say I have depression and/or anxiety. My Dad died in October and I was ok initially but have deteriorated over the last few weeks to the point that day to day things are a huge effort - writing this in my dressing gown as I didn't get up until midday even though I went to bed at 9.30pm (DP did the school run). I'm also very weepy. Cry several times every day including at work but don't let anyone see.

Work in itself is not the cause of the stress as such but I need to be on the ball as it is a stressful job - I am a nurse in charge of a 44 bed care home 3 nights a week.

Shall I go off sick? That may be a silly question but my mind is so confused I can't think logically. If I do go off sick shall I tell work the real reason?

Reading this, I know I sound bonkers but I feel quite confused and also extremely guilty as I have never had any time off sick in the 5 years I've had this job.

Iklboo Wed 28-Jan-09 14:00:20

Honestly - ask your doc if he thinks a brief spell off work will help or hinder you (sitting at home brooding might make you feel worse IYSWIM)
If you go off sick you will need to tell HR the reason - they'll see your sick note.
TBH I'd speak to my HR people too - they might be able to help you with workload, counselling etc

bundle Wed 28-Jan-09 14:01:34

when i was signed off with depression my gp asked me what I wanted her to put on the sick note - i think we settled on Stress! (mine was after my dad died too - a sort of delayed reaction - poor you!)

VinegarTits Wed 28-Jan-09 14:10:42

I would say by the sounds of it, some time off work would be good for you right now, you can initially get your gp to sign you off for 2 weeks, then go back after 2 weeks and see how you feel

You dont have to explain anything in detail to your employer, just send in the sick note with your reasons i.e stress/anxiety, then spend some time looking after yourself, collecting your thoughts, resting.

Hope you feel better soon

zoggs Wed 28-Jan-09 14:33:23

Thank you. I am worried about moping at home if I'm off sick and I'm also worried that I'll slip into long term sickness and never go back. On the other hand, one of my symptoms is poor concentration so I am a bit of a liability with regard to work.

I think I need some time off. Last night I packed my suitcase to run away - I was going to drive to my Dad's house 150 miles away and decorate his bedroom! Luckily, I felt too tired to drive. When I got up today I realised how odd that sounded so I called the GP for an appointment.

summer111 Wed 28-Jan-09 16:01:11

I support clients with mental health problems in retaining their jobs. I'd suggest you look at any time off as only very short term - the longer you are off work, the harder it is generally to return. Have you an Occ Health Dept? / supportive line manager? If you can get support from them, they can possibly look at reducing your hours/negotiating some of your more stressful work tasks. If you don't feel able to share this with your employer, then follow the advice above of VinegarTits.

Work does provide a good distraction it must be said - I lost my mum suddenly two years ago and had it not been for my job, I would have definitley sat at home brooding.

Can you ask your GP for a referral for bereavement counselling? - it may be that you just need to work through emotions with a trained counsellor.

What is important to remember though is that what you are experiencing is a reaction to a very traumatic life event - this is a reactive depression that will resolve itself with time.

best of luck

zoggs Wed 28-Jan-09 18:43:39

This is all very helpful. I agree that work is a good distraction and I managed without any time off after my mum died 5 years ago. This feels different and it is hard to go to work caring for frail elderly people when I feel I should be caring for my dad. I feel cheated. Sometimes I have to deal with death and support relatives which isn't easy for me right now. I can't avoid it as there is never anyone else on my grade on duty. All the other staff on my shift are unqualified, often agency workers.

I will ask about bereavement counselling. I think I will also take some time off sick, maybe a week or two up to 4 weeks maximum and then go back to work. I am hoping to be allowed to reduce my hours as a temporary measure and I will approach HR asap about that. We don't have occupational health and my line manager's post is vacant. I haven't had a supervision appointment since last August so no support at all really.

RachePache Wed 28-Jan-09 18:50:34

zogga - I'm sure you probably know that healthcare professionals have some of the highest rates of depression - it's something that GPs see all the time. It's bread and butter GP work - sounds like some time off work might be just the thing. Yes, work would normally find out the real reason unless you specifically wanted them not to - but it would only be your line manager. Otherwise your GP could put something non specific on the sicknote.

zoggs Wed 28-Jan-09 18:58:19

You're right, RachePache and I also believe that nurses are particularly bad at caring for each other so I'm worried about being seen as a nuisance for being off. Paradoxically, I'm also worried about people feeling sorry for me. I just want to crawl into a hole and lick my wounds and tell everyone to bugger off.

higgle Thu 29-Jan-09 16:40:16

If you want to change jobs I'd think long and hard about being signed off for depression - could you take some leave or think of another reason to give for needing some time away? It is a bit of a drawback to have it on your employment record - i think this is unfair but as you may know Cheltenham council are suing their former chief executive as they say if she had disclosed she had suffered depression they would not have employed her.

zoggs Thu 29-Jan-09 22:16:32

My GP said I am not clinically depressed but that I am having a normal but delayed reaction to bereavement. He has prescribed Citalopram 10mg daily, referred me for bereavement counselling and signed me off work for 2 weeks.

I have been entirely honest with work, took the sick note straight to HR and asked if I could return to work on reduced hours when it ends which has been agreed. They were extremely helpful and sympathetic. Apparently I can access an independent counselling service through work and the HR manager and the Director both said I can contact them at any time if I need any help. In fact, the Director offered to come and see me at home (she is recently bereaved herself). Couldn't quite face that. HR manager is going to phone to see how I am next week.

I feel like a huge weight has been lifted. This is a temporary blip. I will go back to work asap. Honesty is definitely the best policy.

JodieO Thu 29-Jan-09 22:20:37

Higgle - surely that would be discrimination though?

zoggs - I'm glad you've managed to sort your work hours out. Hopefully the medication will give you the help that you need.

TinkerBellesMumandFiFi2 Thu 29-Jan-09 22:38:00

GPs are quite used to writing sick notes for people who are depressed that don't say "depression" on them as it doesn't look good to some employers. Definitely take time off if it's offered you, mention to your GP you would rather they write something else on the note as you don't want your employer to know.

zoggs Fri 30-Jan-09 09:14:52

Why are we so reluctant to admit to depression? If you can't feel depressed after a bereavement, when can you? Surely it's better to face it and get help especially if it's likely to affect those around you?

summer111 Fri 30-Jan-09 16:27:31

zoggs,
I'm thrilled it's all worked out well and that your employer has been so supportive. For the next couple of weeks, focus on being extremely kind to yourself and make sure you try and include an activity every day that makes you feel good - it can be as simple as having a quiet soak in the bath when the kids are at school. This way, you'll be focusing on the positive and therefore helping yourself in your recovery. You can then try and implement this even when you feel more like yourself and are back at work - as a mum and nurse, you spend your time caring for others so it's now time to start caring for yourself.

best of luck smile

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