US adults should get regular anxiety check-ups, says panel

A woman looks out of a window at an empty terminal at an Atlanta airport on June 1, 2020. An influential health guideline group says US doctors should routinely screen adults for anxiety. This is the first time the US Preventive Services Task Force has recommended anxiety screening in primary care for adults without symptoms. (Charlie Riedel, Associated Press)

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WASHINGTON — US doctors should routinely screen all adults under the age of 65 for anxiety, an influential health guideline group proposed Tuesday.

this is the first time U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Anxiety screening is recommended in primary care for adults without symptoms. The proposal is open for public comment until 17 October, but the group usually ratifies its draft guidance.

The recommendations are based on a review that began before covid-19 pandemicTo evaluate studies showing potential benefits and risks from screening. Task force member and co-author Lori Pubert said the guidance is “very timely” given reports of an increase in mental health problems linked to pandemic isolation and stress. Pubert is a psychologist-researcher at the Chan Medical School at the University of Massachusetts.

The task force said the evidence for benefits, including effective treatment, outweighs any risks, including inaccurate screening results that could lead to unnecessary follow-up care.

anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health complaints, affecting about 40% of American women at some point in their lives and more than 1 in 4 men, Pubert noted.

Black people, people living in poverty, people who have lost their partners and those who have other mental health problems are among adults who face a higher risk for developing anxiety, which can lead to panic attacks, phobias or Can always feel on edge. Also, about 1 in 10 pregnant and postpartum women experience anxiety.

Common screening tools include brief questionnaires about symptoms such as fear and anxiety that interfere with normal activities. These can easily be given in a primary care setting, the task force said, although it did not specify how often patients should be screened.

“The most important thing to recognize is that one screening test alone is not enough to diagnose anxiety,” Pubert said. The next step is a more thorough evaluation by a mental health professional, although Pubert acknowledged that finding mental health care can be difficult given the paucity of specialists.

Marketing expert Megan Whelan, 31, who was diagnosed with anxiety in 2013, says regular doctors should check for mental health issues just as they do for physical problems.

“Health is health, whether the problem is visible or not,” said Whelan of Hoboken, New Jersey.


Health is health, whether the problem is visible or not.

-Megan Whelan


She has been helped by medication and talk therapy, but her symptoms worsened during the pandemic and she went back home temporarily.

“The pandemic made me afraid to leave the house, my anxiety was telling me anywhere outside my childhood home was unsafe,” Whelan said. “I still sometimes struggle with feelings of dread and dread. It’s a part of my life at the moment, and I try to manage it as best I can.”

The task force said there is not enough solid research to recommend for or against anxiety screening in older adults 65 years of age and older.

The group continues to recommend depression screening for adults and children, but said there is not enough evidence to evaluate the potential benefits and harms of suicide screening in adults who show no worrying symptoms.

In April, the group released similar draft guidance for children and adolescents, recommending anxiety screening, but stating that more research has been done on the potential benefits and harms of children who commit suicide without any clear indication. the wanted.

Task force guidelines often set out insurance coverage, but the concern is already on the radar of many primary care doctors. In 2020, a group The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends regular primary care anxiety screenings for women and girls starting at age 13.

Melissa Lewis-Duarte, a wellness coach in Scottsdale, Arizona, says that rhythmic breathing, meditation, and making a daily list of three things she’s grateful for have all helped her anxiety.

“The doctor says, ‘Make sure you’re sleeping, control your stress.’ Yes, I get it,” but not everyone knows how, said the 42-year-old mother of three. “It’s hard to prioritize self-care, but that’s what is needed.”

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