Last updated: May 03, 2008
On Sunday nights, Michelle Roe's body went through a ritual: She got pain in her stomach, her fingertips went numb, her face and neck felt flushed and prickly, and she would run into the bathroom to dry heave. "I thought I was going to die if I went to work," says the 32-year-old resident of Adrian, Mich. "I was an accountant, so it was not like my job was dangerous."
Stress and hormones are common triggers for anxiety disorders. There is also a strong genetic predisposition, says Winston, that is independent of behavior that can be learned from an anxious family member, such as obsessive hand washing. People with a disorder often experience their first episodes of disabling anxiety during adolescence, after the loss of a job, or after the birth of a child.
She consulted her primary care physician and began seeing a therapist, but the anxiety may have compromised Cooper's ability to further her treatment, because she put her son's welfare over her own. "I wasn't comfortable going on medication, even though they say that it saves," she says. "I worried about taking any risks with him."
More about anxiety and depression
Research suggests that a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication can help control symptoms and lead to complete remission in some people.