By Doug Dunbar, CBS 11 NewsBy Doug Dunbar

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – More than 10 million Americans suffer from anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders. “Eating disorder behavior is fulfilling some kind of need,” explained Dr. Zaid Malik. And although these disorders are usually associated with young girls, a growing number of cases are being reported in older women.

“Over the course of the last few years, I’ve noticed that patients have been diagnosed with eating disorders more frequently. And the last 10 years, there are a lot of patients in their 50s getting diagnosed, more so in the last five years,” Malik said.

Eating disorders in older women can be triggered by a large variety of things. “I have a patient who started developing an eating disorder pretty late in her life because of a stressful event in her life — when her daughter got divorced,” Malik said. “So, there is a sense of loss, sense of grief.”

But older women may not be able to recover from an eating disorder as easily as a younger patient. “They are already at an age where some of the metabolic functions are declining,” Malik said. “On top of that, when they get involved in this eating disorder behavior, it starts to effect them much more quickly and much more intensely.”

Malik said that getting help early is the key to a patient getting their life back on track.