In a recent 60Minutes broadcast on the effects of the placebo in patients suffering from mild depression psychologist, Irving Kirsch, associate director of Placebo Studies Program at Harvard Medical School found both allopathic medicine and a placebo work just as effectively in treating patients with mild depression. You might ask how a placebo can work just as effectively as allopathic medicine when one is a fake, a sugar-pill and the other is something that is being prescribed by your doctor. Kirsch states that in allopathic medicine it is not so much the chemistry of the drug that is alleviating your pain rather it is the mind that is more responsible for you over coming your depression. Kirsch calls this the “placebo effect” were your mind is fuelled into thinking that a “sugar pill” will make you better. Kirsch also states that within the placebo effect it isn’t only based on the patient receiving the “placebo” it may also be linked to positive motivation from the doctor that can help lead to the patients overall recovery. Through the idea that we believe we are better we therefore start to feel better as a result us thinking we are over our state of depression. The interesting thing is the Kirsch stated that this concept doesn’t only apply with depression but lots of other situations in were pain is a major cause of the problem. One other question that arose in the 60 minutes interview (witch I have provided a link to at the bottom of the blog) is that if placebos are now being shown to have the same effects in patients then regular allopathic medicine then why are doctor so reluctant in using them on patients? The answer is quite simple it is because it is believed to be “unethical” because you are providing your patient with something that has the potential to be ineffective. Placebos have also been used in knee surgery, with osteoporosis, patients that have Parkinson’s disease. Though this new research Kirsch discovered that the placebo doesn’t only work on the mind it may also change your blood pressure, change the brain chemistry.
“Treating Depression.” 60 Minutes. CBS. CBS. Cbsnews.com. 17 Feb. 2012. Web. 29 Feb. 2012. <http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7399141n>.
To see a video of this 60 Minutes broadcast click on the link below.