BETHESDA, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - Right now, many Americans are dealing with an incredible amount of stress, but an influential panel of medical experts believes they might be able to help.
For the first time, they’re recommending that doctors screen all adults under the age of 65 for anxiety.
The U.S. Preventative Services Taskforce began work on the recommendation before the pandemic, however, Dr. Lori Pbert, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School and a task force member, said that the pandemic makes this announcement especially timely.
"The COVID pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on adults in our country," she explained. "Think about it, stress, isolation, and change in routine have all been associated with increased anxiety and depression."
Not only is anxiety prevalent, it’s also on the rise. According to one study cited by the task force, the percentage of adults with recent symptoms of an anxiety or a depressive disorder increased from 36.4% to 41.5% between August 2020 and February 2021.
Pbert said the screening process would start with a questionnaire at a patient’s primary care doctor’s office. Then, if needed, there would be a diagnostic assessment, which is typically an interview, and after that, a patient could be connected to treatment.
"It might ask you about fears and worries," Pbert said of the initial questionnaire. "It might ask you if you experienced times when you feel out of control. It will ask you questions about if you have symptoms like intense fear that you experience suddenly and unexpected."
Currently, the guidance is just a draft recommendation. The public has the opportunity to weigh-in over the course of the next four weeks, before a final recommendation will be made.