It is easy to believe that eating disorders only afflict the young. Those who are haunted by picture of skinny models and Hollywood portrayals of beauty that is only found in a size two find reality very difficult to manage. According to a recent UPI report, however, these disorders are now increasingly being found in older patients as well.
There are a number of different things that can trigger an eating disorder. No matter the individual’s age, the disorder could be triggered by a loss of job, suffering bereavement, giving birth to a child or experiencing the breakdown of a relationship. Whatever the reason, they are having profound effect on the individual.
According to Sylvia Dahabra, a Newcastle psychiatrist who works with patients within the regional specialist eating disorders service, the patient sector has certainly changed. Five or 10 years ago, she would treat an older person with an eating disorder once about every year or two. Today, she is seeing them much more often and they all are suffering from late onset anorexia nervosa or bulimia.
When the older individual suffers a life-changing event, it can trigger an eating disorder. When this happens, their mood deteriorates and they can easily develop a depressive illness. At the same time, they lose their appetite and then begin to lose weight. In many of these instances, the individual is not necessarily seeking to lose weight; it is simply an effect from the current conditions.
Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, higher than depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.