Medical Report Suggests All Women Be Screened for Anxiety Disorders

A coalition of women’s health groups is recommending all adult and adolescent women and girls are screened for anxiety disorder. The Women’s Preventative Services Initiative, a federally funded women’s health group administered by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, released the report in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

They laid out the guidelines advising doctors and health care providers to screen all female patients for anxiety disorder starting at the age of 13. Women experience anxiety at twice the rate of men, while higher-risk groups include pregnant women and women postpartum. Hormones and societal pressures are two factors that play into anxiety for women and girls.

“Anxiety lives under the surface and can be very disabling, but it’s not easily picked up by clinicians,” said Dr. Heidi Nelson, co-author of the research and professor at Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine. Dr. Nelson added that when unaddressed, anxiety can harm women relationally, throughout their education and throughout their careers.

She continued, “It really holds women back so it’s a condition that really impairs them over a long trajectory of their lives.”

The Women’s Preventive Services Initiative Chair Dr. Jeanne Conry said the group is recommending routine screenings because female patients suffering from anxiety usually refrain from informing their doctor of the problem.

She said screenings will enable health care providers to refer female patients to additional evaluations, therapy, and medication treatments. The screenings would fall under the preventative services within the Affordable Care Act and would be covered.

The Realist Woman’s take:

This is such an important topic for women. I remember being 16 and trying to articulate my daily struggle of anxiety without ever having heard of it. The doctor gave me a pamphlet on anxiety and it helped me because I knew something was wrong with me, but I hadn't talked about it with anyone. I felt safe telling a doctor, but that's apparently not the case with most women and girls.

So these screenings being more a routine practice is amazing. I know from experience how not only mentally and emotionally crippling anxiety can be. it takes a physical toll as well. So whatever we can do to address this issue and tackle this issue, I'm all for it.

Doctors recommend girls be screened for anxiety starting at age 13