Task Force Recommends Screening for Anxiety for All Adults Under 65

Task Force Recommends Screening for Anxiety for All Adults Under 65

By By Cara Murez HealthDay Reporter, health day reporter

(Health Day)

TUESDAY, Sept. 20, 2022 (HealthDay News) — In what amounts to public acknowledgment that anxiety disorders have run rampant during the pandemic, an influential group of experts recommends for the first time that all American adults under the age of 65 be screened for the condition.

“COVID has had a dramatic impact on the mental health of Americans,” said Lori Pbert, panel member, clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Massachusetts Chan School of Medicine. Washington Post. “This is a priority topic for its importance to public health, but it is clear that there has been increased attention to mental health in this country in recent years.”

A similar recommendation was issued for people aged 8 to 18 in April by the same group, the US Preventive Services Task Force.

The task force stopped short of recommending screening for people aged 65 and over, but that’s because symptoms of anxiety and symptoms of aging can often overlap, so it was less clear whether a anxiety treatment was needed at these ages.

Although the recommendation comes at a time of great need – anxiety and depression rose by 25% in the first year of the pandemic, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) – it would also be difficult to meet the needs of all those who might be diagnosed with anxiety.

Experts have expressed concerns about more testing without also allocating more funds to serve those who will need care.

“Screening is great, but with a severe shortage of manpower, it’s puzzling unless there are plans to increase funding for clinicians,” Eugene Beresin, psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and executive director of the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds, says the Job.

Even the simple screening process can be a challenge: primary care practitioners already need to ensure that screenings are up-to-date for cervical, colon and breast cancer, as well as being mindful of the food insecurity, domestic violence, alcohol and tobacco use and chronic health problems.

The task force itself noted that less than “half of people with mental illness will receive mental health care.”

Despite the global increase in diagnoses of anxiety and depression in 2021, “the situation has improved somewhat, but today too many people remain unable to get the care and support they need for pre-existing and newly developed mental health conditions,” the WHO said earlier this year.

Symptoms can include feelings of worry and dread, as well as physical symptoms such as a racing heart and sweaty palms.

It is also undertreated, with the median time to start treatment averaging about 23 years, according to a study cited by the task force.

“After 2020, he’s the rare patient who doesn’t have anxiety,” said Mahmooda Qureshi, an intern at Massachusetts General Hospital. Job.

The working group had previously recommended screening for depression. He said clinicians should use their judgment to screen for anxiety in elderly patients.

The group stopped short of advising suicide risk screening, saying there is “not enough evidence to know whether screening people without signs or symptoms will ultimately help prevent suicide”.

The panel also cited “racism and structural policies” that disproportionately affect people of color. Misdiagnoses of mental health conditions are more common among black and Hispanic patients, he noted, while black patients are less likely to receive mental health services.

“Our hope is that this set of recommendations can raise awareness of the need to create better access to mental health care across the country,” Pbert said, as well as highlight “gaps in the evidence, so that donors can support much-needed research in these areas”. areas “.

The working group is a panel of independent experts appointed by the Agency for Health Research and Quality. The public can comment on the proposed recommendation until October 17 before final approval.

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