A placebo is an inactive substance which will produce psychological rather than physiological effects upon a patient. What is surprising is that Prozac, one of the leading drugs in treating depression which people pay good money for, has little more effect than a mere placebo.
Many studies are now showing that taking a simple sugar pill, whilst believing it is an anti-depressant, will uplift one’s mood. So why are people rushing to get their Prozac prescriptions? They may as well pop a sugar cube instead. More tasty and with all the same effects.
This may also explain why anti-depressants tend to have a short-term effect before dosages need to be upped. Medical professionals will bandy the word “tolerance” around. Patients have become tolerant to the drug, so need a higher dosage to feel its effect. I believe that the sugar pill effect has just worn off. Now they need a stronger placebo to believe in which comes in the form of a higher dosage.
Perhaps part of this phenomenon can be put down to expectations. If a participant is part of a clinical trial and being administered a certain substance, they wouldn’t want to disappoint the administrator. They would have an expectation that the supposed drug will have an effect on them and will report an effect whether they feel it or not. This results in participant bias, doing what they think the evaluator wants them to do.
Nonetheless, I find these results interesting because it shows a lot of what we experience is in our minds. If we think we are going to get better, we miraculously do so. Therefore, I think other methods should be used to conquer depression rather than popping these clinically useless, short lived placebo pills.
Candy. (2009). Orange Pills. Retrieved May 10, 2013, from http://www.landmark.edu/library/citation-guides/landmark-college-citation-guides/apa-citation-style-guide/#Images
Robotham, J. (October 21, 2013). Anti-depressants have little more effect than placebos, claims study. The Sunday Morning Herald. Retrieved May 8, 2013, from http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/10/20/1034561389128.html