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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Placebo treatment: is it effective?

Placebo therapy is effective. Read an article on CNN health that showed people with mild-level of depression showed some positive outcomes from being on a placebo pill.

Questions were raised about the effectiveness of the medication treatment. That’s not what I’m concerned about here.

Power of the mind is my concern. The human mind is amazing. William James, one of the founders of psychology had said that humans only use about 10% of their brain. Our brains are way more powerful than we realize.

Placebo is the positive outcome of a treatment because the individual thinks it is working. It has other names. In psychology, it is called a self-fulfilling prophecy. A person thinks something is true and they create that reality.

If you think you can then you’re more likely to try to do it. As a result of trying your chances of succeeding increase by 100% compared to not trying. So, you’re more than likely to make it happen. On the other hand, if you think you can’t do something, you’ll never try it. Why try if you’ll fail anyway. As a result, you create your own self-fulfilling prophecy that you couldn’t succeed at something.

Placebo is the same. It is all in the mind. The person thinks the drug is working so they start to “act happy.” By acting happier they feel happier by smiling more or doing activities they enjoy more. Studies show that smiling can release chemicals in the body that produce “good-feelings.” Doing activities a person enjoys can produce good-feelings, too. People who participate in social activities will spend more time with family and/ or friends and have a sense of support, too.

Please note that I’m not saying a person shouldn’t take their medications. Don’t stop taking them if you’re on them. However, as a recreational therapist, I do want to point out the power of the mind and human thinking.

Here is the link to the CNN article:

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