SWISS MEDICAL EXPERTISE: ZURICH, MALLORCA, LONDON, NEW YORK

4 Minutes

Edited & medically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
Fact checked

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a complex mental health condition that affects millions worldwide, yet it is often misunderstood. It is estimated that 2% of the global condition is living with this condition, with 9 out of 10 experiencing a co-occurring disorder. In film and television, we often see it displayed as an insatiable desire for cleanliness – but this is a very narrow understanding. While cleaning can be part of the symptoms, it does not have to be present for someone to have OCD. These misconceptions often hinder people finding the right treatment and support.

The Balance specialises in helping affluent individuals get to the other side of their symptoms. To understand OCD better, we sat down with our Clinical Director, Dr. Sarah Boss, to discuss the condition, common misconceptions and how it develops.

OCD: Common Misconceptions & Our Unique Approach

The DSM-5, or diagnostic manual for mental disorders, characterises OCD as persistent, unwanted thoughts and behaviours that the sufferer feels compelled to perform on repeat. The compulsion is the attempt to ignore or suppress the thoughts, urges, or images or neutralise them with another thought or action. The way this manifests changes depending on the individual, but the key link is the intrusive nature and distress that it’s capable of causing. Examples of compulsions include checking, counting or cleaning rituals. Oftentimes, there is a frightening belief on the other side of the compulsion and if they don’t perform it correctly – something bad will happen.

Beyond the DSM-5 diagnostic definition, our Clinical Director, Dr. Sarah Boss, defines OCD as the “inability to be flexible.” People who struggle with OCD, or the symptoms of it, are often obsessed with certain rules. Someone with OCD can be a perfectionist and it may help them in certain areas of life, but when it starts to negatively impact them is when they need to seek clinical support.

OCD can be present in children from a young age, or it can develop as a result of depression, anxiety, or a particularly stressful moment of life. “The counting, cleaning or compulsion gives the illusion of order, of taking back control,” says Dr. Boss.

  1. OCD is just about cleanliness The stereotype that OCD solely involves cleanliness and a desire for order is pervasive but grossly inaccurate. Many individuals with OCD have no cleaning compulsions. Instead, they may struggle with entirely different anxieties, such as an irrational fear of harming loved ones or the need to perform tasks in a specific, ritualistic way to avoid perceived disaster.
  2. People with OCD can just stop if they try hard enough This misconception is not only false but also harmful. It suggests that OCD is a matter of willpower, but it’s not. Compulsions are the attempt to stop whatever they think is going to happen. It is mentally exhausting, and something that requires professional help to understand and change slowly.
  3. OCD is just a personality trait This minimises OCD as if to say the experience of it is just a quirk. The condition is debilitating, and can severely impact every aspect of life, from personal relationships to professional responsibilities. It needs to be seen as a serious mental health struggle in order to get the appropriate support.

At The Balance, we approach every struggle with the same philosophy. We know that the symptoms someone is experiencing comes from a deeper, underlying issue. We work to find the root cause. Our personalised programs are built after in-depth assessments and one to one time with our clinical experts. OCD is a condition that 90% of the time is co-occurring with another disorder. In order to get the right treatment, you need a team that is able to treat things as a whole – not just in isolation.

It evolves with you. Dr, Sarah Boss says, “We want each patient to experience a bit of everything: good psychotherapy treatments, vagus nerve stimulation, medication if needed, with possible technology treatments like TMS or tDCS. We make sure all aspects of the body are looked at – with a full restoration of the microbiome, and balancing of all blood levels. We tailor everything we do to an individual’s needs – the tests and treatment could not be more specialised.” The program evolves with the client. Each of our treatments are carried out with the utmost privacy.

Debunking common misconceptions about OCD is essential for changing perceptions about the disorder and improving treatment outcomes. When OCD starts to affect an individual’s quality of life – it’s time to seek treatment. 90% of people struggling with OCD are experiencing a co-occurring condition. At The Balance, we specialise in multi-diagnosis cases. Our expert team builds a program that is personalised and evolves as you do. We encourage anyone struggling with OCD or their loved ones to reach out to discover how our unique approach can lead to a better quality of life.

HOW THE BALANCE CAN HELP WITH Mental Health

The Balance RehabClinic is a leading provider of luxury addiction and mental health treatment for affluent individuals and their families, offering a blend of innovative science and holistic methods with unparalleled individualised care.

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