What is a placebo effect? You might have come across the term very often, probably as a very general term used in popular culture but the exact definition of it may be new to most of the readers. The following article aims to be aware of placebo effects, their features, and their uses in modern medicine and healthcare.
A placebo effect is defined as a phenomenon in which people experience a positive effect or benefit by receiving a look-alike of the treatment or fake treatment. In other words, people have a sense of expectation due to some medications or drugs they have taken, which is not the case— they have received a false treatment, for example, a simple sugar pill for improving their performance for a variety of tests and results. The Placebo effect is important for various psychological and medical studies.
The fact behind Placebo Why people experience such benefits after a fake treatment is a matter of debate and further study researchers say there are a variety of reasons behind it, such as;
As a placebo affects dopamine and opioid receptors, which are both connected to mood enhancement and a sense of drive, hormones may be to blame.
Conditioning or in a simple language, “controlling’, is a process that, when combined with an event, can result in the learning of new skills. A repeated activity related to a particular behavior that allows us to learn something new.
Genetics seem to also impact whether a person responds to the placebo effect. Their brain chemistry accepts to behave beneficially to the person taking the treatment: our genetic makeup differs from individual to individual and just like immunity is strong and weak between populations, Placebo’s response also coordinates differently from person to person. Physicians use a placebo as a method to test a newly made drug/treatment and previously made drug to find out if the old treatment gives better results or the new one.
Overall, a placebo is a kind of perception, all that your mind creates to create a positive effect. The placebo effect appears to offer the most assistance in cases of insomnia, stress management, fatigue treatment, depression, and enhancement of psychological well-being. However, it is important not to regard placebos as a cure. They merely serve as a means to facilitate improved outcomes, as you cannot solely rely on tricking your mind to cure a disease or psychological condition. Nonetheless, placebos do induce actual physiological and psychological responses, including alterations in blood pressure and heart rate.
Applications of the placebo effect
1) Medical research and clinical trials
Placebos are often used in medical research to test the beneficial effects of new medicines. Researchers can establish the exact benefits of the treatment being studied by comparing the impacts of the used treatment with that of a placebo.
2) Pain management:
The placebo effect can help with pain management. Studies have shown that placebos have soothing properties, which can cause a reduction in pain and an increase in tolerance. Doctors can use placebos as supplements to traditional pain treatments or to help patients reduce their dependency on pain medication.
Placebos in the field of sports
It has been known to bear fruitful results in the field of sports. It is said that it improved athletes’ performances and boosted their confidence, making them motivated to achieve their goals and believe in their talents. Research has shown that placebos positively impact the performance of athletes, particularly when psychological factors come into play.
Caring for patients and their satisfaction
The role of a placebo is entirely dependent upon the thinking of the user. As long the patient thinks he is safe and feels comfortable in the environment, it results in a positive feeling that leads to better health and well-being. Placebos work in the field of patient care by providing warmth and compassionate connection between them and their caregiver, be it their family, friends, or mental health professionals, it leads to an overall improvement in health and satisfaction.
Developing a healthy Mind-body connection
The aim of psychology is to understand human behavior and how the mind plays a role in it. What we perceive and think affects our behavior. Placebos influence our way of thinking and, in this way, they create a feeling of safety that helps us understand the connection between our physical body and mind.
The placebo effect is known for enhancing the likelihood of treatment effectiveness, while the “Nocebo effect” acts as its counterpart. Unlike the placebo effect, the Nocebo effect operates in the opposite direction. The likelihood of a therapy succeeding is known to be decreased by the negative expectation that it won’t, leading to situations where a negative effect rather than a positive one takes place.
Research and studies have changed the mentality of people about the placebo effect, not only it is real but its role is growing in general practices. It is an interesting thing to study and learn which can help us to understand more about human behaviour under certain situations. Indeed, there are side effects of the placebo effect, but there is a lot to know about this mysterious phenomenon. Still, a lot of clinicians prefer this method for medications and trial purposes.