Did Ellen Muth have Bulimia Nervosa? (7 symptoms of bulimia nervosa)

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In this blog post, we shall answer the question “did Ellen Muth have Bulimia Nervosa?” and look extensively at bulimia nervosa, its risk factors, signs and symptoms and treatment options. We shall also look at self-care tips you can use in the treatment of bulimia.

Did Ellen Muth have bulimia nervosa?

We are not sure if Ellen Muth had bulimia nervosa. She never opened up or confirmed rumours that she was suffering from an eating disorder. The media, however, is awash with claims that she was suffering from an eating disorder. This is after people noticed that she kept getting thinner and thinner as the series, ‘dead like me’ progressed.

One tabloid described her as ‘a lollipop head’ which meant that the head looked disproportionally larger than the rest of the body. Other fans noticed her tense expressions and swollen glands and quickly assumed that this was caused by bulimia nervosa (from vomiting too much).

Unless Ellen comes out and address these claims, they will remain to be just rumours. In the meantime, it is important that we educate ourselves on eating disorders and particularly bulimia nervosa‌. Before we do that, let us look at who Ellen Muth is.

Some went as fat as posting pictures of Ellen Muth and created a platform for people to talk about them. The discussion had many people using insensitive and abusive language to describe her, with a few people coming to her defense and saying that she did not show any signs of having an eating disorder. They went ahead to discuss whether she had any plastic surgeries done with many agreeing that she had surgery done on her breasts and lips.

Many people, especially celebrities, are scrutinized and criticized for their bodies and this builds pressure to look perfect. People in the art and creative industry are among vulnerable groups at a high risk of developing eating disorders. While some are caused by them having body issues and the compulsive need to look perfect, others turn to disordered eating as a way of coping with online bullies.

The stigma surrounding eating disorders makes it difficult for people to open up about their struggles with eating disorders. Those who open up are still faced with criticism from people who think that they can just snap out of their disorders by just eating. With this said, let us educate ourselves about eating disorders.

Who is Ellen Muth?

Ellen Muth is an American actress who became famous for her role as Georgia “George” Lass in Snowtime’s series ‘dead like me’. She was born on March 6, 1981. She also races 6 speed SS and collects Burmese cats.

When she was on the cast of ‘Hannibal’, there were speculations from her fans that she was suffering from an eating disorder. People expressed concerns that she was getting thinner as the series progressed. Some, however, said she looked perfectly fine as she had always been thin. 

She did not address the speculations. We will now look in detail at what bulimia disorder is and its signs and symptoms.

Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia is a psychological eating disorder characterized by episodes of binge eating and afterwards, you try to lose weight inappropriately. Binge eating episodes are characterized by consuming large amounts of food uncontrollably in one sitting.

People with bulimia try methods of losing weight after binge eating and they include:

  • Use of laxatives and diuretics. Laxatives are medications used to loosen up stool passage and decrease constipation. They are also used for weight loss. Diuretics are used to reduce fluids from the body which can lead to weight loss.
  • Fasting
  • Enemas
  • Compulsive exercising

Signs and symptoms of bulimia nervosa

The signs and symptoms of bulimia nervosa can be categorized into physical, behavioural and mental symptoms and they include:

Physical symptoms

The physical symptoms of bulimia include:

  • Food aversion
  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue
  • Water-electrolyte imbalance
  • Bad breath
  • Dental cavities
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Inflamed oesophagus
  • Weight loss
  • Using laxatives and diuretics
  • Irregular or absence of menstruation
  • Sore throat

Behavioural symptoms

The behavioural symptoms of bulimia include:

  • Self-harm
  • Vomiting after over-eating
  • Impulsivity
  • Compulsive behaviour
  • Lack of restraint
  • Mood swings

Psychological symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • General discontent
  • Guilt
  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Fear of gaining weight

Some symptoms of bulimia nervosa are not apparent. The red flag to determine if your loved one is suffering from bulimia nervosa include:

  • Having a negative/distorted body image
  • Constantly worrying and complaining that they are fat
  • Not wanting to eat in public
  • Eating an unusual large serving of food in one sitting
  • Strict dieting and fasting after binge eating
  • Exercising too much
  • Frequent bathroom visits during and after meals for long periods
  • Having calluses, sores or scars on the knuckles
  • Damaged teeth and gums
  • Swelling hands and feet
  • Extreme body weight changes
  • Facial and cheek enlarging from swelling glands

Bulimia nervosa tends to start in early adulthood or late childhood. Most cases are realized when the illness is already full-blown as they hide and feel ashamed of their disordered eating and purging methods. Many also feel ashamed when they binge and feel relieved after purging.

Risk factors of bulimia nervosa

The causes of bulimia nervosa are unknown. What we have are risk factors that increase one’s chances of developing eating disorders. They include:

 Genetics

People with close relatives who have had or are struggling with an eating disorder are at a higher risk of developing an eating disorder. Research has shown a possible genetic link to eating disorders. Being overweight in childhood or teenagehood can act as a trigger for developing bulimia nervosa.

Dieting

Many people with bulimia nervosa, started with restricting calories and dieting before it became full-blown. Many people with bulimia, restrict calories in between binge episodes which again trigger binge eating and purging.

Emotional and psychological issues

Stress, anxiety and other psychological issues can be a trigger for binge eating. Environmental stressors and trauma can make one have a negative perception of their body image, therefore, triggering bulimia nervosa.

Other warning signs include:

  • Low self-esteem
  • The pressure of media and culture to conform
  • Negative body image

Complications associated with eating disorders

Bulimia nervosa prevents your body from getting the necessary nutrients required by the body and this can lead to complications like:

  • Arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm)
  • Throat and stomach ulcers
  • Tooth decay and cavities
  • Oesophagus inflammation (esophagitis)
  • Heart failure
  • Increased risk of suicide
  • Stomach and intestines damage
  • Electrolyte imbalance

DSM diagnosis of bulimia nervosa

The diagnostic criteria according to DSM-IV include the following:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating are characterized by eating an amount of food that is considered large than what most people would have in a short period of time and a lack of control over the amount and time taken to finish the amount of food
  • Recurrent inappropriate means to compensate and prevent weight gain i.e. vomiting, using diuretics and laxatives, fasting or excessive exercising
  • Binge eating and compensatory methods happen at least once a week for three months
  • Self-evaluation is influenced by body weight and shape
  • Binging or purging does not occur exclusively during episodes of behaviour that would be common in those with anorexia

Tests done to determine if one has bulimia nervosa

There is no specific test to diagnose bulimia nervosa. However, your doctor will carry out some tests to narrow down the diagnosis and eliminate the possibility of medical illnesses with similar symptoms.

The tests include:

Physical examinations

  • Bodyweight and height to determine BMI
  • Heart rate 
  • Blood pressure
  • Temperature
  • Check your nails and skin
  • Examine your abdomen 
  • Listen to your heart and lungs

Lab tests

  • Blood count
  • Specialized tests to check electrolytes and proteins
  • Liver and kidney function tests
  • Thyroid function tests
  • urinalysis

Psychological examination

  • Enquire about thoughts, feelings and eating habits
  • Conduct psychological self-assessment questionnaires

Other tests

  • X-rays
  • Tests for pneumonia and heart problems
  • Electrocardiograms

All these tests will help your doctor in making a conclusive diagnosis that will help in treatment.

Treatment of Bulimia nervosa

Medication

Some antidepressants like Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors help in reducing episodes of binging and vomiting. They are also effective in treating depression and anxiety which are common co-occurring disorders among people with eating disorders.

Psychotherapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy is a form of therapy which helps a person with eating disorders change their negative thinking patterns about their self-image to more positive ones. Therapy also helps them deal with the underlying causes and triggers of their eating disorders. Finally, therapists can help them develop positive coping mechanisms for their life stressors.

Support groups

These will not only help you feel like you are not alone in the journey of recovering from bulimia but will also give you a platform for free association where you can openly discuss the struggles of the illness without being ashamed or feeling guilty. Support groups also help in encouraging each other and keep one accountable.

Nutritive counselling

This involves having sessions with a registered dietitian or counselor on healthy eating habits to help you get back on track and avoid relapses.

Conclusion

In this article, we talked about Ellen Muth’s eating disorder. We also explained what eating disorders are, their symptoms, causes, risk factors, and treatment options for bulimia. We hope this information was insightful.

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know in the comments section.

Frequently asked questions: Did Ellen Muth have Bulimia Nervosa?

What is the most common eating disorder?

Binge eating is the most common eating disorder with a prevalence of 5.5%.

What is anorexia?

It Is a severe eating disorder characterized by abnormal body weight, distorted

body image, and unwarranted fear of gaining weight. In order to prevent weight

gain, anorexic people try to control their body weight by vomiting food, using

laxatives, diet aids, and excessive exercise.

What are eating disorders?

Eating disorders are mental illnesses characterized by abnormal eating habits,

and complex and damaging relationships between food, exercise and body

image that impairs physical and mental health.

Citations

American Psychiatric Association, (2013). Eating disorders in Diagnostic and statistical manual for mental disorders (5th edition). American Psychiatric Association.

Enki village. Ellen Muth: Dead Like Me and More. Enki village. Retrieved from: https://www.enkivillage.org/ellen-muth.html

Single care team. (February, 15, 2022). Eating disorder statistics 2022. The check up by single care. Retrieved from https://www.singlecare.com/blog/news/eating-disorder-statistics/

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