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All Adults Under 65 Should Be Tested Regularly For Anxiety, U.S. Health Panel Recommends For First Time

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has issued a recommendation stating that all adults under the age of 65 should undergo regular screening for anxiety disorders, even if they do not exhibit any symptoms. This recommendation comes as the country faces a mental health crisis. Anxiety disorders affect approximately 40 million adults in the U.S. annually.

The task force specifically highlighted postpartum and pregnant women as a group that should be screened for anxiety disorders. It emphasized that anxiety disorders often go undetected in primary care settings, leading to significant delays in treatment. The task force found no evidence of harm caused by regular screening for anxiety disorders.

While anxiety can also affect individuals aged 65 and older, the task force determined that there was limited evidence on the benefits and harms of screening in this age group. Therefore, the recommendation for regular screening was limited to younger adults.

The task force is also considering whether to recommend suicide screening for adults, but currently, there is insufficient evidence on whether screening individuals without recognized signs or symptoms would help prevent suicide.

The task force had previously recommended regular screening for depression in all adults, and this recommendation continues to stand.

Anxiety disorders have become increasingly prevalent in recent years, with studies indicating a rise in anxiety levels due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Health Organization reported a 25% global increase in anxiety and depression in the first year of the pandemic. Anxiety disorders can manifest in various forms, such as generalized anxiety disorder or social anxiety disorder, and can significantly impact a person’s daily life.

The task force has assigned a “B” grade to this recommendation, indicating a moderate certainty that the net benefit of screening for anxiety disorders is moderate to substantial. The task force vice chair, Dr. Michael Silverstein, emphasized that regular screening for depression and anxiety disorders is crucial in identifying these conditions and ensuring individuals receive the necessary care.

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