An exploration of anorexia nervosa often lands on the pre-teen to teenage girl with a distorted version of a healthy persona. It’s common for that girl to starve herself, believing she is too fat to be loved and therefore a drastic change is needed. This is heartbreaking enough, but what if the same though process starts at the age of five?
Self-Starvation in Kindergarten
That was the case for Sophie, featured in a recent ABC News report. The self-starvation started in kindergarten when Sophie started listening to the voice in her head that told her not to eat. And while she was hungry all the time, internal forces were stronger than the hunger pains, controlling her activities.
Because of her age, the anorexia development wasn’t immediately noticeable. Relief was finally possible when Sophie admitted to her mother that she had a problem she couldn’t control, but was controlling her.
This heartbreaking story is a birds’ eye view into the potential damage anorexia can have on the healthy individual without warning. Data from the National Institute of Mental Health shows that currently more than 10 million Americans have been diagnosed with some form of an eating disorder. At a 10 percent mortality rate, it is the deadliest of any of the psychiatric illnesses.
Instances of anorexia in children are rare, although the number of hospitalizations is on the rise in the U.S. In fact, the rate increased 72 percent from 1999 to 2009, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The condition is highly inheritable and more likely to exist with another condition, such as anxiety.
For Sophie, the trigger was hard to identify, although she does remember a teacher telling her it was important to eat healthy. For some reason, this young girl, who is also adopted, decided to take that healthy eating to the extreme.
In fact, the triggers are hard to identify for anyone suffering from an eating disorder as the science doesn’t yet exist. What does exist, however, are proven methods for treatment. The first step for those suffering is to trust someone enough to admit they have a problem and want help.