Experts say American adults should get tested for anxiety

Influential US health guidelines group says doctors should test adult patients for anxietyas part of usual care.

American prevention services Task force is an independent group of health care experts acting on a voluntary basis.

The group advises anxiety tests for all people aged 18 to 65. The group began their anxiety review before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, given the rise in mental health issues with the pandemic, the new guidelines are “very timely”, Lori Pbert said.

As a member of the task force, Pbert is also a psychologist and researcher at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School. An Associated Press article about the new task force guidelines says anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health problems.

The task force notes that approximately 40% of American women are affected by anxiety at some point in their lives. About one in 10 pregnant women and those who have just given birth suffer from anxiety. Additionally, anxiety disorder affects more than one in four men in the United States.

Worldwide, anxiety is also on the rise, especially among women.

At the beginning of March, the World Health Organization published a report on the situation of mental health disorders. This report indicates that in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, anxiety and depression increased by 25% worldwide.

Anxiety can manifest as panic attacksnervousness and increased fear.

Common testing tools include answering questions about symptoms during a visit to the primary care physician, the task force said. One such question is “How often do fears and worries affect your usual activities?” The task force did not specify how often patients should be tested.

Pbert said it’s also important to understand that it takes more than tests to identify an anxiety disorder. The next step, she said, is a thorough examination by a mental health professional. Pbert also noted that finding good care can be difficult. Currently, in the United States, there are shortages in the mental health care industry.

Megan Whaler is a 31 year old woman from Hoboken, New Jersey. In 2013, she was identified as having an anxiety disorder.

Book publishing marketer Megan Whalen is anxious. She says regular doctor visits should involve testing for mental health issues as well as physical ones.

Whaler says doctors should test mental health as often as physical health.

“Health is health,” Whalen said, “whether the problem is visible or not.”

She received help from medicine and talk therapy. However, her symptoms worsened during the pandemic and she temporarily returned to her parents.

“The pandemic made me afraid to leave the house — my anxiety telling me that anywhere outside of my childhood home wasn’t safe,” Whelan said. She says she is still in trouble.

The task force said there was not enough research on older people to suggest testing for anxiety in people over 65.

In April, the group released similar guidelines for children.

In the United States, general or primary doctors are already experiencing the increase in cases of anxiety. In 2020, a group linked to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggested that anxiety testing be part of standard care for patients aged 13 and over.

Melissa Lewis-Duarte is a 42-year-old wellness coach and mother of three from Scottsdale, Arizona. She says to breathe deeply and regularly, to practice meditationstating that the things she is grateful for have all helped her anxiety.

“Doctors say ‘make sure you get some sleep’… ‘control your stress,'” she said, noting that it can be difficult to put self-care first.

“But,” she added, “it’s (it’s) what (it’s) necessary.”

I am Anna Matteo.

Lindsey Tanner reported this story for The Associated Press. Anna Matteo adapted it for VOA Learning English.

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words in this story

anxiety – nm a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, usually about an impending event or something the outcome of which is uncertain.

task force – nm a temporary grouping under a leader for the purpose of accomplishing a defined objective

panic attack – nm an episode of intense fear or apprehension that comes on suddenly and may occur for no apparent reason or in response to an identifiable trigger stimulus (such as a stressful event)

symptom – nm a noticeable change in the body or its functions that indicates the presence of a disease or other disorder

visible – adj. able to be seen

talk therapy – nm psychotherapy emphasizing the conversation between therapist and patient

meditation – nm the act or example of planning or quiet reflection


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