woman placing palm to chest. Anxiety concept
Sean Cate
Sean Cate
November 21, 2023 ·  4 min read

New Recommendation Calls for Anxiety Disorder Screening in Adults

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recently made groundbreaking recommendations regarding screening for any anxiety disorders in adults. These guidelines have far-reaching implications for mental health care, emphasizing the need for early detection and intervention. Let’s delve deeper into these significant developments.

Emphasizing Anxiety Disorder Screenings

The Task Force has broadened its recommendations to encompass anxiety disorder screenings for all adults aged 19 to 64, including pregnant and postpartum individuals. This highlights the crucial role of early identification in addressing mental health concerns. However, the recommendations do not extend anxiety screenings to adults aged 65 and above due to insufficient evidence, underlining the need for further research.

Dr. Michael Silverstein, vice chair of the USPSTF and director of the Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute at Brown University, said, “So it really is extremely good news for the delivery of preventive services for the American public. We also found that in the older adult population, which is defined as age 65 and older, that the task force really needs more evidence to weigh the risks and benefits of screening for anxiety disorders. And for that older adult population, we’re calling for urgent new research.”

The Task Force’s decision stems from a comprehensive evidence review, emphasizing the need for improved detection and management of anxiety disorders. The review highlighted the limited direct evidence on the effectiveness of anxiety screening tools, necessitating further validation across diverse age groups and specific populations.

Dr. Georges Benjamin from the American Public Health Association emphasized the underestimation of anxiety prevalence, emphasizing the pressing need to enhance accessibility to mental health services and treatments, “Anxiety has been way under the radar for a long time, and so I think it’s good that they are recommending for the broad population to be screened. When we start screening for anxiety, we’re going to find a lot more of it than we thought we had,” he said, adding that the nation should also prepare to make mental health services and treatments more easily accessible amid the ongoing mental health crisis.”

Depression Screening: A Parallel Focus

Alongside anxiety screenings, the Task Force reiterates its recommendation for depression screenings across all adults, aligning with previous guidance from 2016. These screenings aim to identify major depressive disorder promptly, facilitating timely interventions and support.

While emphasizing the significance of screening, Dr. Jennifer Buckley from the American Academy of Family Physicians raised concerns about limited resources and delays in accessing therapy or psychiatry services. This highlights the urgent need for a more robust mental health care system. As Dr. Silverstein put it, “we have not been treating mental health at the same level as physical health.”

The Task Force’s recommendations underscore the imperative for extensive research on suicide risk assessment. With increasing suicide rates, there is a call for comprehensive studies to understand the effectiveness of screening in identifying and intervening in suicidal behaviors.

Implications and a Path Forward

The recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force mark a pivotal step toward destigmatizing mental health concerns and integrating screening into routine care. As mental health advocates stress the importance of immediate clinical evaluation following positive anxiety screenings, it is evident that the healthcare system requires rapid evolution to offer timely support and treatment for these conditions.

Implementing these guidelines necessitates comprehensive support systems. Family physicians and healthcare providers play a critical role in executing these recommendations. Increased training and resources can aid in integrating mental health screenings seamlessly into patient care, ensuring individuals receive appropriate interventions.

Collaboration across healthcare sectors is vital to address the treatment gaps highlighted by these recommendations. Allocating resources toward expanding mental health services, reducing wait times for therapy or psychiatry appointments, and building stronger referral networks are critical to supporting these guidelines’ effective implementation.

Anxiety Disorders and Enhanced Mental Health Care

The recommendations by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force signify a significant leap toward prioritizing mental health screenings. Their adoption and effective implementation can lead to a transformative shift in mental health care, fostering a proactive approach to addressing anxiety disorders and major depressive disorders. Dr. Murray Stein and Dr. Linda Hill, both of the University of California, San Diego believe that “[t]he uptake of these new anxiety screening recommendations should provide an impetus and an opportunity for primary care clinicians to become more comfortable with diagnosing and treating anxiety disorders, which may require additional training.” These guidelines underscore the critical role of the healthcare system in recognizing and addressing mental health concerns proactively.

Keep Reading: People With Hidden Depression Can Display These 12 Symptoms


  1. Task Force Recommends Screening Adults for Anxiety, Depression.” AAFP. July 5, 2023.
  2. For first time, US task force recommends screening adults for anxiety disorders.” CNN. Jacqueline Howard. June 20, 2023.