On 17 October, the public commenting period closed for the US Preventive Services Task Force’s (USPSTF) recommendation to screen adults aged younger than 65 years for anxiety. This recommendation comes as the incidence of anxiety disorders is rising globally. Once finalised, it could increase the 12-month total prevalent cases (which includes both diagnosed and undiagnosed cases) of anxiety disorders in the US as more people become aware they have one.
According to GlobalData epidemiologists, 12-month total prevalent cases of anxiety disorders are expected to reach 48.7 million cases by the end of 2028 in US men and women aged 18 years and older. Should this new recommendation be adopted, the 12-month total prevalent cases will likely surpass current forecast estimates due to increased case identification and disease awareness. The extent of this increase and its impact on anxiety morbidity will ultimately be impacted by several caveats, such as challenges in diagnosing anxiety, access to care, and several other barriers that may limit the ability of people to receive help.
The recommendation comes amid a rising trend of anxiety worldwide. According to the World Health Organisation, the global prevalence of anxiety skyrocketed by 25% last year. Such an increase was mainly due to the Covid-19 pandemic, where many Americans experienced loss, isolation and illness over a prolonged period. The recommendation by the USPSTF is, therefore, timely insofar as it may detect many of these additional cases, resulting in more individuals being diagnosed as a result of the pandemic than otherwise would have. In addition, while the incidence of anxiety may drop over time after the lingering effects of the pandemic taper off, anxiety still impacted many people before the pandemic and will most likely continue to do so. Because of this, the recommendation will remain an essential step in combatting anxiety in the post-pandemic landscape.