Sudden Wealth Syndrome (SWS) Treatment Programme
SWS – also known as wealth fatigue - occurs when someone comes into a large sum of money but struggles to adapt to their changing circumstances. It can be one of the most confusing, difficult, and self-destructive times in a person’s life. Unfortunately, it usually leads to the loss of that newly acquired wealth.
However, we can help you prevent this from occurring. At Paracelsus Recovery, you can effectively stop SWS in its tracks by cultivating all of the necessary tools needed to navigate your financial transition effectively.
We are the only clinic worldwide to provide an SWS-specific treatment programme. As we only treat one client at a time, our multidisciplinary team of 15+ doctors will focus exclusively on you.
SWS Treatment at Paracelsus Recovery
At Paracelsus Recovery, we have helped numerous clients overcome SWS, and we can help you too. Referrals have increased in recent years, largely because of how much can be made in such a short period of time in cryptocurrency markets. Our treatment programmes focus on each client and their unique health needs. We use a multidisciplinary approach (our 360-degree treatment model) to address all the underlying issues, not just the symptoms. A thorough assessment is carried out to determine the exact treatment and therapies required. We will design an individual treatment plan based on the results of these assessments.
While each treatment programme is individually curated for each client, it will typically include varying degrees of:
Physical Health Restoration
- Our Michelin-star chef and dietitian team will tailor-make a nutrient-dense plan to replenish any lab-identified inflammatory or immune system-related issues.
- We provide clients with an individualised formula of nutritional supplements and IV solutions based on comprehensive laboratory testing. Supplements and IVs include varying degrees of minerals, amino acids, vitamins, and other substances.
- Bio-resonance treatment
- Your schedule will also include regular meditation periods, healing massage therapies and other body therapies (e.g., acupuncture and a personal trainer) to help your body de-stress and process some of these challenging emotions.
- If you have also developed a substance abuse dependency, we will address each subsequent health issue. For example, our medical team will help you undergo a detoxification period.
Financial Health Restoration
- We have long-standing relationships with leading financial advisors who can help you figure out what you would like to do with your money.
- We can also support you as you create a money-management team if you have not already done so.
- We can also advise you on tax, liability, and investment risks.
However, above all else, our team will focus on helping you make spending decisions that align with your goals. To do that, we can provide various psychoeducation sessions to help you understand the role our emotions can play in our spending. While it depends on your specific needs, these can range from the neuroscience of money and financial boundary setting with others to navigating emotional decision-making and understanding how to incorporate wealth into our identity.
What is Sudden Wealth Syndrome?
Although a seemingly-overnight financial windfall may seem like a dream come true, anyone who has experienced it first-hand knows it is much more complicated. Money is a highly emotional object with social and personal ramifications. Consequently, when your financial well-being changes, it has a knock-on effect on your identity, relationships, and sense of meaning.
For example, if you come from humble origins and suddenly make millions in cryptocurrency, it can radically alter how your loved ones see you and what they expect from you. You might begin to feel alienated or different to them, which can be jarring. Or maybe you decide to sell a business that has been in your family for generations. You’ve become a multi-millionaire and never need to work again. But, without the push to make money, you suddenly need to figure out how to bring meaning and focus into your life, which can be difficult. Then, on top of these pressures, sudden wealth brings a host of new responsibilities. You need to create a financial team, evaluate how to spend that money, which friends or family members you will support and so on.
As a result, it is normal to feel a sense of shock and confusion when you experience a sudden and extreme windfall. In most cases, these emotions will decrease as you adapt to your new financial situation. However, if they remain unchanged or worsen, you could develop Sudden Wealth Syndrome. For example, if these challenging emotions lead you to adopt self-destructive coping strategies – such as isolation, substance abuse, inappropriate decision making or reckless spending, it could signify that you are struggling with SWS.
Sudden Wealth Syndrome was coined by Stephen Goldbart, co-founder of the Money, Meaning and Choices Institute, in the 1990s. Goldbart noticed that when someone comes into an abrupt fortune, it creates newfound and unexpected pressure. Depending on that person’s background and personality, they can struggle to reckon with these stressors to the point where it leads to behavioural and emotional difficulties. SWS is particularly common in younger wealth recipients and those with humbler backgrounds.
Although not a medically recognised condition, as anyone working with ultra-wealthy clients in the mental health field will tell you, SWS can lead to immense stress and cause a host of difficult emotions, experiences, and events. It is usually diagnosed by analysing common symptoms (e.g., feelings of guilt, shock, and paranoia), changes in relationships (e.g., isolation or over-spending on others), and causes (e.g., co-occurring conditions or childhood-related beliefs about one’s worth).
While many argue that it is akin to an identity crisis, at Paracelsus Recovery, we believe that symptoms of SWS are more aligned with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As such, we treat it using a similar modality as our trauma programmes.
Symptoms of SWS Include:
- Intense Guilt When we are not accustomed to wealth, it can be hard to reckon with the idea that we ‘deserve it.’ As a result, chronic and unrelenting guilt about one’s financial circumstances is a core symptom of SWS, which Goldbart compares to survivor guilt in its intensity and irrationality.
- Paranoia SWS-related paranoia usually involves feeling tormented by the irrational and extreme fear you will lose all of your newfound wealth. It can lead to a secondary symptom known as Ticker Shock, which describes someone who obsessively watches stock market volatility to ensure that their new fortune is not losing value.
- Shock When you come into wealth, you have to go through a myriad of changes to your life, including a change in lifestyle, responsibility and how others perceive you. These are significant alterations in your life, and it will take time to adapt. However, if that shock persists over weeks and months, it could be a symptom of SWS. In that case, it typically feels akin to a sense of numbness, detachment, alienation from others, and an inability to find meaning in one’s actions or life.
- Isolation from Loved Ones Unfortunately, this sudden influx of challenging emotions can cause a person to adopt self-destructive behaviours and coping mechanisms. One of the most common examples is isolation from loved ones which is compounded by the fact that a person with SWS may notice a change in how their family, colleagues and friends interact with them.
- Reckless Spending Reckless spending is another common self-destructive coping mechanism to deal with these challenging emotions. One reason for this is that we start to feel so uncomfortable in our new financial skin that we unconsciously spend that money in an attempt to ‘feel more like ourselves’ again. Those purchases could include risky investments, excessive spending, gambling, or promises to loved ones.
If you notice any of these symptoms in yourself, it is crucial to seek support as soon as you can. The symptoms of Sudden Wealth Syndrome are challenging, and they sow the seeds for a host of other issues, particularly depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and substance abuse issues.
- One Client at a Time
At Paracelsus Recovery, we only ever treat one client at any given time. We do this to provide our clients with absolute confidentiality and care. By focusing an entire team's attention and care on you and your needs, we can provide the most comprehensive treatment in the world.
- Bespoke Clinical Residence
We treat clients in exclusive surroundings with absolute privacy and discretion. Our in-patient treatment programmes typically last four to eight weeks, depending on your specific needs. We also offer one-week Executive Detox programmes.
- Tailor-Made to You.
For treatment to be successful, we believe it needs to be tailored to your specific needs.
Studies show that, despite prevailing stigmas and stereotypes, increased wealth can bring a host of mental health issues with it. Specifically, substance abuse, burnout, depression and loneliness levels are considerably higher amongst ultra-wealthy individuals than their counterparts.
For example, when someone becomes financially successful, they tend to find themselves surrounded by opportunists. As a result, their faith in others' kindness takes a drastic hit. Social connections are essential to ensure robust mental health, but they are built on compassion and trust. If an individual has to question other people’s intentions consistently, then it won’t be easy for them to connect with people outside of their immediate family which can lead to isolation and mental health issues.
Sudden wealth syndrome (SWS) is a psychological condition that is common in individuals who suddenly come into large sums of money. It is understood as similar to an identity crisis and trauma response, and is diagnosed when someone is showing symptoms such as intense guilt, paranoia, continued shock, reckless spending and isolation from loved ones.
If you think you might be struggling with sudden wealth syndrome, we would recommend seeking therapeutic support as soon as possible. SWS can be debilitating and lead you to make impulsive or reckless financial decisions in an unconscious attempt to rid yourself of that pain. If treatment is not an option for you, try to be extra-compassionate and mindful with yourself as you adjust to your new life. Prioritise assembling a financial team, try to minimise excessive spending and only tell your loved ones about your windfall in the beginning. You can find more tips here.
Affluenza is a term used to describe feelings of guilt, social isolation and lack of motivation that impacts many wealthy individuals. These emotions and experiences can be very challenging and sow the seeds for issues like substance abuse, depression and anxiety.
Akin to all of our treatment programmes, we treat SWS on a case-by-case basis. That being said, we adopt a trauma framework for SWS so the programme will typically include intensive psychotherapy, biochemical restoration and various physical treatments to help you manage the stress and incorporate your new circumstances into your sense of self. If necessary, we can also include financial literacy and psychoeducation into your plan. These will help you understand both how to use your money and why financial changes can have such a profound impact on your wellbeing.
At Paracelsus Recovery, we will never take your phone from you or demand that you quit working while you are with us. Instead, we act as your support system while you are with us. For example, we can provide boundary implementation, emotional regulation or distancing and stress-relief techniques as you deal with these work-related issues.
The programme is usually one month long. However, we can tailor it to a timespan that suits you in some instances.