For the first time, a panel of US health experts are recommending that primary care doctors begin screening for anxiety in children as early as 8 years old and for depression in children 12 and older.
In a time when the diagnosis of mental health disorders among young Americans is rising, the US Preventive Services Task Force (a group of disease prevention and medical experts) is placing an emphasis on prevention and detection instead of reaction.
As defined by the task force, anxiety refers to a group of emotional and physical symptoms associated with excessive fear or worrying. The panel recommends using screening questionnaires during doctor visits to determine whether children may be at risk. Studies show that children with such conditions benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or psychotherapy.
Task force member and clinical psychologist and behavioral scientist, Lori Pbert said, “We can’t not be screening children and teens,” adding, “We have to identify them early. We don’t want them struggling.”
These screenings are meant to identify children who may require additional mental health care support. Pediatricians are not required to follow the guidelines but often do based on the influential panel’s suggestions.