LONDON, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Once considered a disease primarily affecting young women, anorexia and bulimia are now disorders found in older patients, doctors in Britain said.
Several things can trigger the eating disorders, and patients 60 years and older are now being treated for the disease, The Guardian newspaper reported.
"Five or 10 years ago, I would've seen one case of an older person developing an eating disorder about once every year or two. But now I see them more often – about five new patients a year with late onset anorexia nervosa or bulimia," said Sylvia Dahabra, a Newcastle psychiatrist who works for the regional specialist eating disorders service.
Numerous events may cause the onset of late-stage anorexia and bulimia, and it can also affect men, the report said.
"The person can lose their job, suffer a bereavement, have a child or see their relationship break down," Dahabra said. "As a result, their mood deteriorates and they develop a depressive illness. They lose their appetite and then lose weight."
Stewart Craig, whose daughter died of anorexia in 2007, said it has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, including depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Natasha Craig, 35, weighed just 64 pounds when she died, her father said.
"I think that anorexia is a bit like being an alcoholic, except that with alcohol it's much easier because you can give up drinking; but you can't give up eating," Craig said.