Sep 20, 2022 - Health

Anxiety screening recommended for most adults for first time

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Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A federal task force for the first time is recommending screening adults under the age of 65 for anxiety.

Why it matters: Anxiety disorders are the top mental illness in the country, affecting about 19% of the adult population, according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America.

Details: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of medical experts from the fields of primary and preventative care, recommended the following:

  • Screening adults younger than 65 for anxiety. There is not enough evidence to recommend screening adults age 65 or older for anxiety, the panel said.
  • Continue screening all adults, "including those who are pregnant and postpartum," for depression.
  • Additional research on the role of screening for suicide risk in adults, which is "critically needed." There is not enough evidence to determine whether screening asymptomatic individuals helps prevent suicide, the panel said.

What they're saying: "The good news is that 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 panel member Lori Pbert.

  • "Unfortunately, evidence is limited on screening adults 65 or older for anxiety and screening all adults for suicide risk, so we are urgently calling for more research,” said Gbenga Ogedegbe, another member.

What's next: The task force's recommendations are open for public comment through Oct. 17.

Zoom out: The move comes months after the task force recommended that children as young as age 8 should be screened for anxiety.

Go deeper: Task force recommends against routine suicide screening for kids

If you or someone you know needs suicide support now, call or text 988 or chat with someone at 988lifeline.org. En Español.

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