Cancelling Out the Good

Just as the placebo effect can have a positive impact on treatment results, the opposite can be true as well. It’s called the nocebo effect.

Because the mind and body are inseparable, what we think or feel has an impact on how our bodies react. If we are told to expect an unpleasant side effect, the odds of actually experiencing that side effect go up. If we believe the treatment will have no positive impact, then the odds of treatment failure go up, too.

Some people take the concepts of placebo and nocebo effects too far by suggesting that we have the power to think (or feel) our way out of being sick. This extreme view has led to very poor treatment of the chronically ill. It’s not fair and can be quite cruel.

That doesn’t mean we should stop trying to hope for the best or think positively about new treatment strategies. A habit of negative thinking can (and often does) change the way our body processes injury, interprets pain, and fights off infections. We do have some (although not complete) control over how successful our treatment is.

Time and time again studies have shown that patients who exhibit hopeful attitudes are more active in their treatment plan. They take responsibility for their part in managing their illness and tend to be less disabled than their negative counterparts. Attitude matters. In fact, it can make or break the outcome.

For many patients, maintaining that positive, hopeful outlook is a true struggle. Depression and anxiety take over and send patients spiraling in a negative feedback loop from which they cannot escape. Because attitude is so important to treatment success, mood and anxiety disorders should be treated right along with the physical illness or disease. Whether the low mood is a result of poor treatments or an actual depressive episode, we still need help keeping our collective chins up.

Don’t let your mood cancel out all the good a treatment can do. Get treatment for both depression AND migraine for the best outcomes of both.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
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