ADHD News & Research

All Adults Should Get Anxiety and Depression Screenings, Says U.S. Task Force

All adults under age 65, including pregnant and postpartum people, should receive mental health screenings, says the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force for the first time. Diagnosing and treating anxiety and depression, in particular, increases the likelihood of better health outcomes.

October 9, 2022

All adults under age 65, including pregnant and postpartum people, should be routinely screened for anxiety and depression, according to new and groundbreaking draft recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). 1

The task force, which comprises independent medical experts, has never before called for routine mental health screenings for adults ages 19 to 64. The group’s draft recommendations intend to help clinicians identify and treat symptoms of anxiety and depression, in particular, before they intensify and possibly interfere with a patient’s everyday life.

“We know that anxiety is such a common disorder,” said John Piacentini, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA. “If left untreated, it can increase the risk for depression, substance abuse, self-harm, and other negative health outcomes. This recommendation is a really important step toward helping people get treatment.”

Elizabeth Hovis, M.D., an assistant professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, called the USPSTF draft recommendations for routine anxiety and depression screenings for pregnant and postpartum women—a demographic at higher risk for these disorders—long overdue.

“Depression and anxiety are leading and preventable causes of maternal morbidity and mortality, with one in five pregnant or postpartum women experiencing a mental health condition,” she said. “Unfortunately, 75% of these go untreated. Because of this, universal screening for depression and anxiety in the perinatal period is critical.”

Earlier this year, the task force recommended routine mental health screenings for children ages 8 to 18 as well.

According to the draft recommendation, U.S. data collected from 2001 to 2002 found that the lifetime prevalence of anxiety disorders in adults was 26.4% for men and 40.4% for women. Generalized anxiety disorder has an estimated prevalence of 8.5% to 10.5% during pregnancy and 4.4% to 10.8% postpartum. 2, 3

The public may comment on the draft recommendation through Oct 17, 2022.

View Article Sources

1 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. (2022) Screening for Anxiety in Adults. www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/draft-recommendation/anxiety-adults-screening

2 Kessler, R.C., Petukhova, M., Sampson, N.A., et al. (2012) Twelve-Month and Lifetime Prevalence and Lifetime Morbid Risk of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in the United States. Int J Methods Psychiatr Res. 21(3):169-184. https://doi.org/10.1002/mpr.1359

3 Misri, S., Abizadeh, J., Sanders, S., et al. (2015) Perinatal Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Assessment and Treatment. Journal of Women’s Health. 24(9):762-70. https://doi.org/10.1089/jwh.2014.5150

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