The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends regular anxiety screening for adults under the age of 65
With the rising proportion of people living with mental illness, it’s becoming apparent that there must be a better way to identify ailing patients and get them help sooner, before what’s bothering them becomes a full-blown mental health crisis.
That’s why the US Preventive Services Task Force, a voluntary body of national experts on disease prevention and evidence-based medicine, now recommends that these screenings become the standard of care going forward.
“The US Preventive Services Task Force is seeking comments on a draft recommendation statement and draft evidence review for adult anxiety screening. The task force has found that screening can help detect anxiety in adults under the age of 65, including those who are pregnant and postpartum,” the group wrote on Tuesday.
This follows an April statement from the US Preventive Services Task Force, in which it recommended the same for children ages 8 and older.
The reason that regular anxiety screening is not currently recommended for adults over 65 is that “more research is needed to recommend for or against anxiety screening” in this age group.
The draft recommendation statement and draft evidence review are available for review and public comment through October 17.
Established in 1984, the US Preventive Services Task Force is composed of members from the fields of preventive medicine and primary care, including internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, behavioral medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, and nursing. Their recommendations are intended to help primary care physicians and patients decide together whether a preventive care service is appropriate for a patient’s needs, and the task force produces an annual report to Congress that identifies evidence gaps in research related to clinical preventive care services and prioritises them recommends areas that deserve further consideration.
The group’s statement does not elaborate on what these screenings might look like, how they would be performed, or who would perform them, although presumably through the use of the GAD they would become part of regular primary care screening -7.
This is because the relationship between the GP and the patient is changing, and fewer people are forming a long-term relationship with a GP: More than 70% of Americans had a GP in 2002, up from 64% in 2015. When a GP is no longer needed , who will then be the front door to someone’s health care?
This is especially true for younger people: while 84% of Baby Boomers have a GP, this is the case for 67% of Millennials and only 55% of Gen Z.
Mental health problems were on the rise even before COVID, with nearly 20% of adults, or nearly 50 million Americans, already suffering from some form of mental illness, and there was already a growing problem among young people with more than 1 in 3 high school Students who experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness in 2019, a 40 percent increase in 10 years. During the same period, the number of youth who said they were planning suicide increased by 44%.
The pandemic and its aftermath exacerbated the situation; According to the World Health Organization, the global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by 25% in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was also a spike in substance abuse problems with 99,000 people dying from drug overdoses in the first full year of the pandemic in the United States, a nearly 30% increase from the previous year. Even cigarette sales rose in the first 10 months of 2020 after falling between 4% and 5% annually since 2015.
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(Image source: medlineplus.gov)