US adults should get routine anxiety screening, panel says

Sep 19, 2022, 8:17 PM | Updated: Sep 20, 2022, 9:01 am
FILE - In this June 1, 2020 file photo, a woman looks through a window at a near-empty terminal at ...

FILE - In this June 1, 2020 file photo, a woman looks through a window at a near-empty terminal at an airport in Atlanta. An influential health guidelines group says U.S. doctors should regularly screen adults for anxiety. It’s the first time the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended anxiety screening in primary care for adults without symptoms. The report released Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022 is open for public comment until Oct. 17. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

U.S. doctors should regularly screen all adults under 65 for anxiety, an influential health guidelines group proposed Tuesday.

It’s the first time the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended anxiety screening in primary care for adults without symptoms. The proposal is open for public comment until Oct. 17, but the group usually affirms its draft guidance.

The recommendations are based on a review that began before the COVID-19 pandemic, evaluating studies showing potential benefits and risks from screening. Given reports of a surge in mental health problems linked with pandemic isolation and stress, the guidance is “very timely,” said Lori Pbert, a task force member and co-author. Pbert is a psychologist-researcher at the University of Massachusetts’ Chan Medical School.

The task force said evidence for benefits, including effective treatments, outweighs any risks, which include 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 U.S. women at some point in their lives and more than 1 in 4 men, Pbert noted.

Black people, those living in poverty, people who have lost partners and those who have other mental health issues are among adults who face higher risks for developing anxiety, which can manifest as panic attacks, phobias or feeling always on edge. Also, about 1 in 10 pregnant and postpartum women experience anxiety.

Common screening tools include brief questionnaires about symptoms such as fears and worries that interfere with usual activities. These can easily be given in a primary care setting, the task force said, although it didn’t specify how often patients should be screened.

“The most important thing to recognize is that a screening test alone is not sufficient to diagnose anxiety,” Pbert said. The next step is a more thorough evaluation by a mental health professional, though Pbert acknowledged that finding mental health care can be difficult given shortages of specialists.

Megan Whalen, a 31-year-old marketing specialist who was diagnosed with anxiety in 2013, says regular doctors should screen for mental health issues as commonly as they do for physical problems.

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

She has gotten help from medicine and talk therapy, but her symptoms worsened during the pandemic and she temporarily moved back home.

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

The task force said there isn’t enough solid research in older adults to recommend for or against anxiety screening in those aged 65 and up.

The group continues to recommend depression screening for adults and children, but said there isn’t enough evidence to evaluate potential benefits and harms of suicide screening in adults who show no worrisome symptoms.

In April, the group issued similar draft guidance for children and teens, recommending anxiety screening but stating that more research is needed on potential benefits and harms of suicide screening kids with no obvious signs.

Guidelines from the task force often determine insurance coverage, but anxiety is already on the radar of many primary care doctors. In 2020, a group affiliated with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended routine primary care anxiety screening for women and girls starting at age 13.

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

“Doctors say, ‘Make sure you’re sleeping, control your stress.’ Yeah, I get that,” but not everyone knows how, said the 42-year-old mother of three. “It’s difficult to prioritize self-care, but that’s what’s necessary.”

___

Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at @LindseyTanner.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Exhibition March 9, 2020, in Washington. Tr...
Associated Press

To buy Twitter, Musk has to keep banks, investors on board

If the squabbling ever stops over Elon Musk’s renewed bid to buy Twitter, experts say he still faces a huge obstacle to closing the $44 billion deal: Keeping his financing in place. Earlier this week, Musk reversed course and said he’d go through with acquiring the social media company under the same terms he agreed […]
1 day ago
FILE - In this file photo released by the U.S. Navy, a Saildrone Explorer unmanned sea drone sails ...
Associated Press

US, UK hold drone drill in Persian Gulf after Iran seizures

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The U.S. Navy held a joint drone drill with the United Kingdom on Friday in the Persian Gulf, testing the same unmanned surveillance ships that Iran twice has seized in recent months in the Middle East. The exercise comes as the U.S. Navy separately told commercial shippers in the […]
1 day ago
A man wearing a blanket cast his vote at a poling station in Maseru, South Africa, Friday, Oct. 7, ...
Associated Press

Thousands vote in southern Africa’s small kingdom Lesotho

MASERU, Lesotho (AP) — Thousands of voters in Lesotho are casting their ballots in the country’s general elections. The elections are a tight race between the top three parties out of a field of more than 60 registered political parties. Outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu of the Democratic Congress party is running against his […]
1 day ago
A Russian rocket sticks out of the ground in a forest near Oleksandrivka village, Ukraine, Thursday...
Associated Press

Missiles, drones hit Zaporizhzhia again as death toll rises

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The death toll from a Russian missile attack on apartment blocks in the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia rose to 11 on Friday as the city was hit again by missiles and — for the first time — by explosive packed drones. With its army suffering a series of stinging battlefield […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Japan regulator orders brokerage to halt block trading

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s Financial Services Agency ordered brokerage SMBC Nikko Securities to suspend its block trading operations for three months from Friday as part of penalties in a market manipulation case. That follows the arrest of its vice president, Toshihiro Sato, and several other employees on suspicion they put in massive buy orders to […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Danes puzzled by minor tremors in international waters

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Officials in Denmark are puzzled by four small tremors that were recorded this week off a northeastern Danish island in the Kattegat sea. The Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) said it had detected the tremors on Tuesday and Wednesday, adding that each time there were two tremors approximately 30 […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
US adults should get routine anxiety screening, panel says