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Farewell to a trusted source

(Courtesy of

The last thing I talked about with Jerilyn Ross was throwing up.

Actually, what I interviewed her about in October was emetophobia, or the fear of throwing up. As soon as I decided to write about the topic, I knew just who to call. For many journalists, writing about any kind of phobia or other anxiety disorder meant a call to Jerilyn Ross.

Ross, who founded the Ross Center for Anxiety & Related Disorders in the District in 1991, died of neuroendocrine cancer on January 7. She was 63.

I actually never met her in person, but I felt a kinship with her. Like Ross, I've suffered from anxiety disorders. But she turned her scary experience with anxiety into a career helping others recognize and deal with their own anxiety-driven feelings and behaviors.

One of the people she helped was singer Donny Osmond, who credits her with getting him past his crippling stage fright so he could continue to perform.

Ross's great skill was helping people understand that they are not alone in their anxiety and that our relationship with anxiety is something that can be managed, just as we manage the other relationships in our lives. I liked interviewing her because she so clearly knew whereof she spoke. Her interest in anxiety wasn't just academic or clinical. It was part of who she was.

I was sorry to hear of her death and offer sympathy to her loved ones. And the selfish part of me feels sad to have lost her as a trusted source and a compatriot in the battle against life-altering anxiety. I will miss her.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  February 4, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  General Health , Psychology , Stress , Women's Health  
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A great part of Jerilyn Ross's legacy lives on in the nonprofit Anxiety Disorders Association of America, which she co-founded 30 years ago. ADAA ( offers a variety of educational materials, as well as hope for those living with an anxiety disorder.

Posted by: Jeannie8 | February 5, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

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