Russell Brand’s Battle with an Eating Disorder

Russell Brand

Russell Brand has talked openly about his mental health struggles, including his struggle with bulimia [1]. It can be helpful for celebrities to talk about their struggles with mental health because it brings awareness to conditions that are often kept secret.

While several celebrities have been more open about having an eating disorder or negative body image, Brand’s story shines a light on three unique aspects of eating disorder recovery. These are:

Russell Brand and How it Brings Awareness to Co-Occurring Disorders

Brand’s story brings awareness to co-occurring disorders. Someone has co-occurring disorders when they are dealing with two conditions at the same time.

Co-occurring conditions are common in people with eating disorders. In fact, 94% of people with these disorders also struggled with other mental health issues [2]. The most common are depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress, and substance abuse [2].

While these are separate disorders with their own unique challenges, they often feed into each other. For example, sometimes, people use eating disorder behaviors to cope with their anxiety. This may look like someone who is feeling anxious and, as a result, purges to get a sense of relief.

Given how common co-occurring disorders are in people with disordered eating, this is why some eating disorder professionals say that eating disorders are not really about food [3]. This may seem weird since eating disorder symptoms center around food, exercise, and body image.

While it is crucial for recovery to normalize eating patterns and to stop harmful behaviors, for most people, this is not enough to maintain recovery [3]. Lasting recovery often comes from addressing the emotional pain that pushes people to use harmful behaviors like food restriction or laxative abuse [3].

Early Childhood Experiences

Russell BrandBrand’s story also raises awareness about how early childhood experiences can lead to the development of an eating disorder. Brand has shared about how he was bullied and sexually abused as a child [1].

Sexual abuse can lead to developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research shows that untreated PTSD can make it significantly more difficult to heal from disordered eating behaviors [3]. Basically, PTSD symptoms can create a cycle of harmful behaviors that are hard to interrupt.

Brand’s bravery in sharing his experience with sexual abuse also brings awareness to how our childhood experiences can shape the way we view ourselves, others, and the world [3]. In fact, negative views of self, others, and the world are one of the main signs of PTSD.

This is important to be aware of because low self-esteem is common among people with eating disorders [3]. Brand also shared about how he experienced bullying as a child [1]. Unfortunately, this is also common in people with eating disorders [2].

Men and Eating Disorders

Brand’s story is also unique in that eating disorders tend to be associated with girls and women. This makes sense given that the majority of people diagnosed with these disorders are girls, but the amount of boys developing eating disorders is increasing [2]. In fact, boys may be more likely to die from their eating disorders than women [2].

Research is showing that men and boys tend to feel uncomfortable in treatment centers where women surround them. It is important for there to be gender-specific treatment approaches in order to best serve the boys and men who need treatment [2].

Brand’s story brings awareness that men struggle with these issues but that it’s okay for boys to talk about emotional pain and get help. The pressure that boys face to be tough is a common barrier to men receiving the mental health care that they need and deserve.

While Brand’s story brings awareness to several important issues related to mental health and eating disorders, his story also provides hope. Hope that recovery is possible. Which it is, for everyone.


[1] Newman, J. (2017, October 16). Recovery, Russell Brand style. The New York Times.

[2] National Eating Disorders Association. (2018). Statistics and research on eating disorders.

[3] Costin, C., & Schubert Grabb, G. (2012) 8 keys to recovery from an eating disorder. W.W. Norton & Company.

About the Author:

Samantha Bothwell PhotoSamantha Bothwell, LMFT, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, writer, explorer, and lipstick aficionado. She became a therapist after doing her own healing work so she could become whole after spending many years living with her mind and body disconnected. She has focused her clinical work to support the healing process of survivors of sexual violence and eating disorders. She is passionate about guiding people in their return to their truest Self so they can live their most authentic, peaceful life.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published December 18, 2020, on
Reviewed & Approved on December 18, 2020, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He is responsible for the operations of Eating Disorder Hope and ensuring that the website is functioning smoothly.