Giving a Voice to the Silence offers positive angles to the issue that faces those with mental illness. Living with Schizo-Affective Disorder and being able to share my experiences with others, is the best way I know how to pay it forward. Life can be difficult, my goal is to bring a bit of hope to a place where many feel there is none.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Placebo Power - the effectiveness of “fake” drugs

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/emotions/self.Image via Wikipedia

Do we have the power to make ourselves better? Most people would say no, but according to recent studies it may be a reality. Maybe.

A study, done over a 19 year period found that an average of 30 percent of those who received a placebo instead of an anti-depressant, improved. The higher numbers seem to be found in younger groups. In one study, where children were given either Zoloft or a placebo – 59% of those given the placebo improved, while 69% of those given Zoloft improved. What does this tell us?

As you can imagine there are several schools of thought – one could be that commercials are so convincing that this is what you need to feel better that it becomes so, psychologically. So is it the drugs or our own ability to “get better?”

When referencing the study of children and Zoloft, it is thought that the results are due to the prevalence of depression in young people and that they have fewer bouts, leaving open the idea that it has not taken a hold on their lives yet. Also, it is thought that placeboes may work because of the support and attention received during such trials, these things alone may help improve a person’s mood and out look on life.

Drug companies see this as a problem since they are using these trials as a way to show their drug works for the particular illness, but if those in the trial are improving on the placebo and the drug, it makes their case more difficult.

One more factor that may play into the outcomes, is today those entering clinical trials are not only the most severely depressed, but also those who may have a milder form of depression. These milder cases may respond to the placebo just as well as someone with a more severe case responds to the actual medication. How then do we tell the difference if it is the medication or our minds?

We can’t know for sure, everyone is different. It’s trial and error and requires further study as well as getting to now the individual person, what their personality and history are and what will work for them.

Maybe we can rely on ourselves more?


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