For the first time a national task force has recommended that doctors screen all adults under 65 for anxiety at routine visits.
The recommendations come from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which has been studying the issue.
"By screening for anxiety disorders we’re able to catch people early," said Dr. Lori Pbert, a task force member and professor at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School.
She says almost one in five adults have reported anxiety disorders in just the last year, driven in part by the pandemic which has led to stress, isolation, and fear.
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"We’re hoping these recommendations move the needle and shine a spotlight on the need to expand mental health services in this country," she said.
Dr. Edward Silberman, a psychiatrist at Tufts Medical Center, says screenings could help to identify any issues, but follow-ups will be key.
"Nothing good will come of it unless people have adequate access to services," he said. "Adequate access to mental health care. Without that it’s just kind of a tease."
Dr. Luana Marques, a clinical psychologist at Mass General Hospital, has studied anxiety for two decades.
"I think recommending screenings for anxiety are great in principle," she said.
She says screenings could help to identify patients with issues, but there needs to be investment in mental health.
"We are in the middle of a mental health crisis," she said. "We really need a lot more mental health professionals, psychiatrists, people that can identify and treat emotional challenges."