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Researchers Explain Why Does The Placebo Response Work In Treating Depression

Update Date: Sep 15, 2014 09:38 AM EDT

In the last 30 years, the power of placebos has increased significantly and now a new research has come up with an explanation of the powerful effects of placebos on depression. 

Placebo drugs are simple sugar pills given to patients who think that it may be actual medication.

"In short, if you think a pill is going to work, it probably will," said Andrew Leuchter, the study's first author and a professor of psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, in the press release.

According to the study, the treatment incorporating either type of pill - real medication or placebo, yields better outcomes than supportive care alone.  

Researchers also highlighted the observation that the success of the placebo treatment was closely correlated to people's expectations before they began treatment. 

"Our study indicates that belief in 'the power of the pill' uniquely drives the placebo response, while medications are likely to work regardless of patients' belief in their effectiveness," Leuchter added.

"These results suggest a unique role for people's expectations about their medication in engendering a placebo response. Higher expectations of medication effectiveness predicted an improvement in placebo-treated subjects, and it's important to note that people's expectations about how effective a medication may be were already formed before they entered the trial."

The study has been published in the current online edition of the British Journal of Psychiatry.

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