Placebos reduce the symptoms of depression almost as much as standard treatments.
A placebo is a treatment given by a doctor which not intended to have any direct effect on the function of the body, but nevertheless can bring about improvements in a patient’s symptoms.
When placebos were first described in the 1950s, it was thought that their effect was entirely psychological but a growing body of medical research is showing that placebo treatment can bring about measurable physiological changes within the body.
A placebo treatment might improve your symptoms and by definition can’t cause any harm.
Even more intriguing is the finding by a team from Harvard Medical School in 2010 that placebo treatment can work even if you know you are taking a placebo:
Results from a landmark study at Harvard Medical School: Placebos without Deception: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Ted J. Kaptchuk, Irving Kirsch, et al. 2010.
More about the placebo effect
Eric Mead: The Magic of the Placebo
Watch this fascinating TEDTalk discussing the placebo effect.
Dr Michael Mosley: BBC Horizon
Dr Mosley meets a women whose life was transformed by placebo surgery.
How the placebo effect really works
A simple introduction to the placebo effect.