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Anxiety can be more than just an occasional uneasy feeling — it can manifest in ways that can be pervasive and debilitating, impacting both mental and physical health. That's why recent guidance recommendation from a high-level federal panel emphasizes the importance of health care providers screening for anxiety disorders among their patients, and why APTA has created a member benefit to help PTs do just that.

The APTA practice advisory focuses on what PTs need to know about anxiety disorders, including signs and symptoms, and tools that help identify the potential presence of a disorder. The resource was developed in response to a series of recommendations from the United States Preventive Services Task Force, or USPSTF — a final recommendation aimed at children and adolescents, and a draft recommendation (awaiting finalization) for adults — that call on health care providers to screen for anxiety issues and disorders among patients.

The APTA advisory notes that the screening tools recommended aren’t enough to lead to a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder, but they can help a PT get a sense of whether an individual's plan of care should be adjusted, and whether it may be appropriate to make a referral to a provider qualified to diagnose and treat any mental health conditions.

USPSTF is an independent volunteer panel of experts appointed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The recent recommendations are similar to USPSTF guidance, issued in 2016, calling for health care providers to screen adults for depression. APTA also offers access to tests and measures for depression screening.

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