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Draft recommendation advises all adults under 64 to get screened for anxiety

Draft recommendation advises adults under 64 to get anxiety screenings
Draft recommendation advises adults under 64 to get anxiety screenings 02:24

NEW YORK -- Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health complaints, affecting about 40% of women in the United States at some point in their lives and more than 1 in 4 men.

The next time you go to the doctor, you might be asked about it.

If you're 64 years old and younger, you should be routinely screened for anxiety by your primary care doctor. That's the draft recommendation by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. They say it's for adults without symptoms and who haven't been diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

"A really crucial first step. That way, we can destigmatize mental illness as well because often times, I mean, as someone who identified as Korean-American, as a daughter of immigrants, talking about mental health within the context of my family, with even my peers can be really difficult," said Manhattanville resident Robin Kong.

"I cannot get over, as a doctor, how much physical illness comes about as a result of anxiety," psychologist Dr. Harris Stratyner said.

Stratyner says early screening would go a long way in helping to prevent that.

"I used to work in an emergency room. How many people would come in and would have all kinds of stomach symptoms, and they'd work them up for an ulcer and they would do all kinds of invasive tests, but they wouldn't bother to ask them, 'Are you having anxiety?'" Stratyner said.

"How do you screen someone without symptoms?" CBS2's Alice Gainer asked.

"In this case, you do questionnaires," Stratyner said.

"Are you feeling nervous, anxious or on edge? Do you have trouble relaxing? Do you feel easily annoyed or irritable?" psychiatrist Dr. Thayanne DeLima-Tokarz said.

The panel made this recommendation based on a review that began before the COVID-19 pandemic, but DeLima-Tokarz notes this is timely.

"I think with COVID-19, we saw the importance of how relationships are and with anxiety, it can really prevent people being able to socialize and reach out to other people," she said.

The task force says risks include inaccurate screening results that could lead to unnecessary follow-up care.

DeLima-Tokarz says another issue is "making sure we have enough resources to follow through and get people the help they need," she said.

She says a good quality of life is the best gift you can give yourself, so if your doctor doesn't ask, bring it up during your next visit.

This is a draft recommendation, so the proposal is open for public comment until Oct. 17. The task force said there wasn't enough solid research in adults 65 and older to recommend it for them.

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