PTSD May Trigger Anorexia Nervosa

More than half of young women suffering from anorexia nervosa told British researchers that their problems began after a childhood trauma, such as their parents’ divorce or death of a family member.

Eighty-three percent of the 250 people in the survey said that their eating disorders began before they were 15 years old, and 53% said it was before age ten. Contrary to popular perceptions, the study found very little correlation between developing an eating disorder and being influenced by images of super-slim celebrities.

“Sadly, these survey results are not that surprising,” said Mary George, a spokesperson for beat, a British charity for eating disorders. “We are finding that people being treated for anorexia are getting younger and younger. We conducted a similar study earlier this year and found the average age of developing anorexia was just 12 years old. There was even a case of a six-year-old showing signs of the illness.”

Anorexia nervosa can be a life-threatening disorder affecting about one in every 200 young women.  Anorexics starve themselves because they believe they mistakenly believe they are overweight, even as they keep becoming more dangerously underweight.  About one in five anorexics dies from the disorder.

This study was commissioned by Over Eaters Anonymous in Great Britain.