At some point in our lives, we’ve heard about the placebo effect. In medical studies, it is when a control group is given a placebo pill (also known as the sugar pill) in order to provide a comparison for the effectiveness of a new medicine or substance. The control group is told that the pills are real and they perceive to experience an improvement in their symptoms, not knowing that they were given a fake pill. Thus, the placebo effect, making them believe that the medicine will cure them or make them feel better.
While there is placebo effect wherein positive thinking affects the health of the person, we overlook its counterpart called the nocebo effect. In nocebo effect, when a person is told about the side effects that a medicine can cause, they start to feel like they’re experiencing the side effects. In one study by the Technical University of Munich in Germany, they analyzed 50 people who suffered from chronic back pain and were given flexibility tests. Half of the control group were told that there might be a side effect of feeling pain while the rest were not informed. The control group that was reported to have experienced the higher amount of pain were those who were told that there would be side effects of feeling pain, despite the other group enduring the same procedure.
Nocebo effect is very common among people who think negatively about their current condition or if they are on a certain medication. They can perceive experiencing side effects that probably aren’t real, just because they were told by their doctors about the side effects. Medical studies show that the way you think affects your condition overall. It can either be a placebo effect or a nocebo. However, it’s not safe to assume that by making your illness a mind over matter, it can cure you just by thinking in a positive light. Positive thinking could only help you to an extent by reducing the stress levels your body goes through. It may sound like a small thing, but it actually does wonders.
Traits such as optimism and pessimism can affect your health and overall well-being, just like placebo and nocebo effect. Positive thinking is a part of stress management and stress management entails a lot of health benefits. Again, it doesn’t mean that you have to ignore the symptoms you are feeling. Being positive about it just means that you are approaching the situation in a positive and productive way that can help you improve your health, but not entirely. When you start taking medications, you have to assume that you are going to recover, regardless of how many doctors or medicines you already took and even if none of it may have worked. Don’t expect the worst all the time, because you might be feeding your brain the wrong information until it truly manifests.