U.S. Preventative Services Task Force Recommends Anxiety Screening for All Adults Under 65
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force has issued a recommendation that all adults under the age of 65 should be screened for anxiety during their lifetime. This recommendation is not mandatory for doctors, but the task force carries enormous weight in the medical community and its recommendations often change the way doctors practice medicine.
What the Recommendation Entails:
– Doctors should screen any patient who has never before been screened for anxiety during their next doctors’ visit.
– Standardized anxiety screenings like existing questionnaires should be used to assess whether patients may have some of the signs and symptoms of anxiety.
– Anyone who screens positive for anxiety should be referred to a mental health professional for a confirmation of their diagnosis and treatment.
Why the Recommendation is Important:
– Anxiety is a feeling evoked when someone experiences fear of something bad happening, and it can lead to avoidance, panic attacks, excessive worrying or other symptoms.
– When anxiety becomes overwhelming to the point that it consistently interferes with daily life, it can be an anxiety disorder.
– The new task force recommendation is intended as one way to help prevent mental health conditions from going undetected.
Types of Anxiety Disorders:
– Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): worrying “excessively about ordinary, day-to-day issues, such as health, money, work, and family.”
– Panic disorder: sudden attacks of terror when there is no actual danger.
– Social anxiety disorder: becoming very anxious and self-conscious in everyday social situations.
– Specific phobia: an intense fear of something, such as heights, water, animals or specific situations that possess “little or no actual danger.”
Treatment for Anxiety Disorders:
– Counseling and medication are often used in combination, and both together are often most effective.
– Cognitive behavioral therapy is often used to help people change thinking patterns around their fears.
– Prescription medication often taken daily to treat and prevent future episodes of anxiety on a long-term basis is different than a medication such as Xanax or Valium that is intended for infrequent treatment of acute anxiety, as they can be addictive.
In conclusion, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force’s recommendation for anxiety screening for all adults under 65 is an important step in preventing mental health conditions from going undetected. Anyone with symptoms of anxiety should seek screening immediately, and not wait for their next primary care visit. Treatment for anxiety disorders often includes a combination of counseling and medication, and both together are often most effective.