Routinely screen most adults for anxiety, US task force says

Physicians should routinely screen adults under the age of 65 for anxiety disorders, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said in draft guidance published Sept. 20. The task force also continues to recommend screening all adults for depression. 

The recommendations apply to pregnant and postpartum individuals, though the group stopped short of extending its anxiety screening guidance to people older than 65, saying there is not enough evidence on the benefits to do so. The panel will publish a final version of the guidance after reviewing public comments, which it is accepting through Oct. 17. 

"Screening all adults for depression, including those who are pregnant and postpartum, and screening adults younger than 65 for anxiety can help identify these conditions early so people can be connected to care," said Lori Pbert, PhD, a task force member and clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School in Worcester. 

A study cited by the task force showed the percentage of adults with recent symptoms of an anxiety or depressive disorder increased from 36.4 percent in August 2020 to 41.5 percent in February 2021, The New York Times reports. Globally, anxiety and depression increased by 25 percent during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the World Health Organization.

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