Nashville doctors weigh in on panel’s proposal for anxiety screenings for most adults


This week a health guidelines group announced a proposed measure for U.S. doctors to regularly screen all adults under 65 for anxiety, Justina Latimer reports.
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 8:05 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - This week a health guidelines group announced a proposed measure for U.S. doctors to regularly screen all adults under the age of 65 for anxiety.

Local health experts shared their thoughts about the proposal.

“Anxiety is our most common mental health illness that we see,” Dr. Rachel Mehr, a family medicine physician with Ascension Saint Thomas Medical Group, said.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended for the first time anxiety screenings in primary care for adults without symptoms.

Mehr said while they already screen for depression, adding anxiety screenings would be a positive move since the two run hand and hand.

“Not everyone will come forward and say they feel a certain way because they may think they are coming to the doctor only for a physical complaint or physical problem, or physical screenings, but we know that the mental and the physical work hand and hand,” Mehr said.

Other health professionals would agree. Dr. Jim Jackson, a professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, calls this an anxious moment in history.

“The reason I think it’s a good idea is because anxiety is very treatable,” Jackson said. “I think there is a perception that anxiety is this mysterious thing, it is hard to manage. In some people it can be, but generally speaking, whether it might be psychotherapy, whether it might be medication, or any number of things, it can be managed well.”

Outside of the hospitals, people like Tristan Pulliam are also weighing in.

“I think it is just absolutely crucial. It is necessary. Ultimately having that health on the outside and having the mental health on the inside is just going to generate a better life,” Pulliam said.

The draft recommendation is not final and will be open for public comment through Oct. 17.