31/05/2016 9:30 AM AEST | Updated 26/08/2016 3:32 PM AEST

GP vs Friend: Who Gives The Best Advice?

Who To Turn To When You Need Help.


There are plenty of ailments that can necessitate a visit to your local GP -- back pain, a particularly bad bout of the 'flu, an unsightly -- but perfectly common -- rash, menstrual issues or a prostate check​. But what about the times there's no obvious illness to explain? When you're just feeling constantly exhausted, when you know you could be fitter, or when you're having nights plagued with sleeplessness and worry? Because while it may seem like something that's best dealt with via a rant to your best mate -- and there will be times when that's just the right medicine -- sometimes some expert health advice can actually have a big impact on your well-being. Here are five common place health and relationship dilemmas, and who you should really be talking to in order to solve them...

Your New Jeans Are Already Feeling Tight, Despite You Buying A Bigger Size Than Normal. Who Do You Talk To, Your GP Or A Friend?

Hill Creek Pictures

Your friend might tell you still you still look great, but a GP will investigate any unexplained weight gain -- or weight loss -- properly. "GPs are trained to listen to your story, then put the pieces of the puzzle together to formulate a possible diagnosis," explains GP and senior clinical lecturer at University of Western Australia, Dr Lucy Rosman. "Weight gain, though not necessarily a red flag, can represent a serious medical condition such as hypothyroidism, cardiac failure, or even pregnancy. Weight loss -- if unintentional -- can be a sign of hyperthyroidism, type 1 diabetes or cancer." If they inform you that it's just all the KFC eating and Netflix binging you've been doing, they can give advice on sensible ways to tackle weight loss.

Talk to: Your GP

You've Been Feeling Anxious And Low. Who Can Make You Feel Better?

Getty Images

"Talking to a friend is always a good thing to do if you are feeling anxious or down," says GP Dr Afrah Mazhar. "Having good support from your friends and family is very important. But sometimes you need more help than a friend can give." Never feel mental health issues aren't worth bringing up with your GP, however nervous you may feel about broaching the subject. "GPs have access to mental health services in the community," says Mazhar. "They can also help you with other options such as psychotherapy, counselling or medication if you need it."

Talk to: Your friend, then a GP if you need more help.

You're Feeling Tired, Lethargic and Sluggish. Who Do You Turn To For Help?


Having a coffee and a chat with a friend might help you temporarily forget about feeling tired, but if your lethargy has lasted for more than a couple of weeks, you need to see your GP."Tiredness is common and often relates to lifestyle issues such as being overweight, not exercising, drugs and alcohol or mental health," says Mazhar. "A GP will ask questions to rule out hypothyroidism, diabetes, depression, cancer, vitamin and iron deficiency. All can be treated." Rosman adds: "If they're ruled out, then it's a good opportunity for some lifestyle advice about diet, exercise, smoking and alcohol."

Talk to: Your GP

You'd Like To Lose Weight But Aren't Sure Where To Start. Who Do You Ask For Advice?


Your mate might swear cutting carbs helped her shed the kilos, but that doesn't mean the same methods will work for you. "Not all diets and exercise programs are suitable for everyone, and if you have a pre-existing medical condition some can be downright dangerous," says Rosman. "GPs are trained to assess the evidence to ensure (their suggestion) is safe and it works before recommending a particular treatment. Eat healthy unprocessed food and move your body more often, and you will lose weight. GPs are also able to provide access to up to five Medicare subsidised visits to a dietician or exercise physiologist if you are an eligible patient." However, it's still important to have emotional support from friends if you're trying to lose weight. "You're more likely to succeed if you have a whole support team around you," says Rosman.

Talk to: Your GP and get the support of a friend too.

Your Relationship Is Going Through A Tough Time. Who Do You Confide In?

Portra Images

"Speaking to a friend when you're going through relationship difficulties can be very helpful as they know your personal situation," says Rosman. "But if they know your partner as well, they may feel conflicted about offering advice." If this is the case, a GP can help. "You can talk to a GP in confidence, knowing you're safe. They also have knowledge of local services such as Relationships Australia," Other sources of support include practical assistance on leaving a relationship, such as help finding accommodation or -- if you are parents -- organising counselling for children.

Talk to: Your friend and if you need further advice, a GP.

If you're concerned about health issues related to weight gain -- or simply want to know how to maintain a healthy weight -- your GP can provide advice on weight loss solutions. Put Your Doctor On Your Side offers weight assessment tools, a simple quiz to help you discover whether you're ready to lose weight, and details on exactly how health professionals can help you.