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Anxiety Screening

USPSTF Recommends Screening for Anxiety

By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends clinicians screen all patients age 65 years and younger for anxiety disorders. The panel called for more research about screening patients older than age 65 years for anxiety as well as screening all patients for suicide risk.

USPSTF officials noted although anxiety is a commonly occurring mental health disorder, the condition often goes unrecognized in primary care. The panel included generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, separation anxiety disorder, phobias, and selective mutism in its definition of anxiety.

Although the group did not offer specific timetables, panelists suggested screening patients who have never been screened while considering relevant risk factors, comorbid conditions, and life events. In the United States, common screening tools include the Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale, the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale anxiety subscale, the Geriatric Anxiety Scale, and the Geriatric Anxiety Inventory.

Panelists said clinicians could treat anxiety through psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, or relaxation and desensitization therapies.

Meanwhile, the USPSTF did not issue definitive recommendations about screening all adults for suicide risk nor about screening patients age 65 years and older for anxiety.

“We are urgently calling for more research to determine the effectiveness of screening all adults for suicide risk and screening adults 65 and older for anxiety disorders,” said USPSTF member Gbenga Ogedegbe, MD, MPH. “The task force deeply cares about the mental health of people nationwide and hopes that future research can help us provide healthcare professionals with evidence-based ways to keep their patients healthy.”

Relias Media has published a detailed review on treating anxiety in primary care as well as treating such conditions in the emergency department. For more mental health resources, check out our latest book, Soul Shock: The Mental Health Crisis in Healthcare Professionals.