Eating disorder treatment center opens in Midlands - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Eating disorder treatment center opens in Midlands

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Medical experts estimate there are 55,000 teens and young children struggling with an eating disorder in South Carolina, but treatment options in our state have been virtually non-existent.

It started for Katherine Branning with a diet fueled by an irrational fear of food.

"I knew there was something wrong with me, but I just wasn't sure and unfortunately it didn't happen to me until I was about to die," said Branning.

At that critical point, Branning required intensive treatment, but she says there was simply no where to go in the state.

"There are programs all over the country that specialize in eating disorders, but not in South Carolina," said Dr. Timothy Brewerton, director of the new Hearth Center for Healing. "A lot of professionals are really scared to treat eating disorders because of the high mortality."

"It's not a problem you go through yourself, you do a lot of family counseling and my family wasn't able to come up," said Branning.

Now, with the opening of the Hearth Center in Columbia, doctors hope to reach those who previously thought help was beyond their grasp, including a growing number of males like John Carpenter.

"Same pressure that's on females is on males," said Carpenter.

"Eating disorders occur more frequently in men than we thought," said Brewerton. "Instead of a 10 to 1 ratio in men, it's more like a 3 to 1 ratio."

While most who suffer never get treatment, those in recovery say eliminating barriers to help like distance may inspire more to get healthy.

"I've never experienced anything more freeing in my life," said Branning. "Recovery is the best gift I've ever had."

Doctors say it can take up to six years of treatment to fully recover from an eating disorder like anorexia.

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