According to the latest recommendations, all women and girls (13 and older) should be tested for anxiety. Here’s everything you need to know.

The Covid-19 pandemic and attention and hopelessness over racial inequity are the issues that have the world trembling. Even just a single one of them can set your anxiety at a high level. And together, they can destroy your mental peace.


The Women’s Preventive Services Initiative just announced instructions that all women and girls 13 and older should get themselves tested for anxiety as part of their routine healthcare. The WPSI, which is a national coalition of women’s health professional organizations and patient representatives delivered collectively by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), forms, reports, and updates recommendations for women’s precautionary healthcare services, including the official government-sponsored guidelines that often change insurance coverage.

WPSI chair Jeanne Conry, MD, Ph.D. says, “The timeliness of this is unbelievable.” She adds, “The recommendations were completed last year. Having it published took the next two months and in that time period exactly we look at a pandemic and at Black Lives Matter. What more anxiety-producing time have we seen in our lives?”


It has found by a fresh Kaiser Family Foundation survey that approximately four out of ten Americans told that concern or tension as the outcome of coronavirus had impacted their mental health negatively. And the number of women was comparatively larger than the number of men, reporting this issue. 46% women and 33% men.


Generally, women do have more anxiety as compared to men. Heidi D. Nelson MD, lead author of a review article accompanying the recommendations says, “Approximately 40 percent of women are affected by anxiety disorders during their lifetimes, which is twice the rate of men.” She tells, “Despite this high prevalence and availability of methods for screening and treatment, only 20 percent of affected persons (men and women) seek care for anxiety.”


The review also affirms that the rate of anxiety amongst women with major depressive disorder is even higher.


Even though there is not a definite answer as to why the rates of anxiety are higher among women but there may be several reasons.

According to Dr. Nelson, the risk of anxiety may be connected to experiences and triggers (like sexual harassment or assault) that are certainly more common in women. Also, anxiety is linked with pregnancy and the postpartum period as well. 

No matter what the reason is, all phases of your life can be disturbed by anxiety. Let it be your school, work, social surroundings, or personal relationships. 


The suggested regular screenings for women, add blood pressure, breast cancer, cholesterol, cervical cancer, and depression. And these are just a few. Though, till now, anxiety has not been on any list.


The overlooking could be described by silence. Dr. Conry says, “Women tend not to be very vocal about their anxiety.” She continues, “They often don’t come into a health provider and say, ‘I’m really anxious.’ Women don’t bring it up.” She also adds that busy clinicians may not have pushed the problem because they’re so occupied.


The WPSI requests every year for opinions of new screening steps that could enhance women’s health over the lifetime. Last year, anxiety was mentioned, after a thorough analysis of all the scientific research, now, it gets on the equal importance as cholesterol and blood pressure.


It is stated by the WPSI recommendations that women and girls 13 and older, who do not have a diagnosed anxiety disorder currently, should be tested for anxiety. This involves women who are pregnant or who have just had a baby.


It is not indicated by the recommendations that how frequently these screenings should happen. They let the provider decide it. Nevertheless, they do advise that the screenings of anxiety should be performed at the same time as the screenings of depression. The WPSI had already suggested that women have at least one precautionary healthcare visit each year.


The ideal answer to this question is yes. Dr. Conry says, “We believe that all women should be asked some screening questions regarding anxiety and not just those presenting with concerns.” She continues, “Why? Because some women do not feel comfortable raising their worries, some may believe that it’s so common that they are ‘making a big deal out of nothing,’ and some need validation. The responsibility is on our shoulders to ask questions, and patients can decline OR ask for more information.”


So, it was gathered by the recommendations that there were no meaningful harms to screening. 


The Health Resources and Services Administration has adopted the new recommendation of anxiety-screening, and it will be part of free precautionary screening under the Affordable Care Act. 


According to Dr. Nelson, who is also a professor of medical informatics and clinical epidemiology and medicine at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, screening for anxiety is “a simple procedure that can be integrated into routine clinical practice similar to depression screening.”


A patient basically answers a list of questions regarding the symptoms, and they can do it either on a touchscreen or on a paper before actually seeing their practitioner.


As per what Dr. Nelson tells, the results are then calculated and will show whether you have anxiety or not and if there’s a requirement of more steps.


No particular survey was suggested by the WPSI. But according to Dr. Nelson, it did “evaluate studies of 27 instruments and their variations and found them to be accurate indicators of anxiety.” Several surveys concern to distinct groups like youngsters, pregnant women, or older women.


Screening in a provider’s office is only the initial step. If it classifies symptoms of anxiety, then your provider should be prepared to suggest you for further evaluation, and treatment if required. Luckily, lots of useful treatments are available which is according to Dr. Corny, part of why the recommendations of screening are now in place. They don’t leave you stuck with zero options.


For people with anxiety, the usual first-line treatments involve cognitive behavioral therapy as well as other forms of psychotherapy. Dr. Nelson says, “These effectively improve symptoms for most patients.”


According to the recommendations, medication might be required, if talk therapy doesn’t benefit. This may involve drugs like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).


Dr. Conry says, “For men and women, anxiety is part of life, but a treatable part of life.”

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