Do you ever find yourself researching your symptoms each time you feel the slightest bit of illness coming on?
That was something I did often and each time, would end up convinced that I was either A) dying or B) close to dying. I noticed that by fretting about the way I felt physically, I would often begin to feel worse, leading to an even bigger increase in symptoms. So you see, it became a never-ending cycle of illness-anxiety-illness.
I had always had a fascination with the mind and it’s ability to directly impact how we feel physically. Many symptoms are manifested in the body as a direct result of our thought processes-good or bad. When we’re excited, our body begins to produce symptoms such as a racing heart, sweating, and abdominal discomfort. When we’re down,we oftentimes feel tired, drained, and experience loss of appetite. These are examples of how your thoughts and associated emotions have a direct correlation with your physical body.
We often hear about the importance of blocking out negative thoughts in order to create a happy, healthy life. But is there any scientific evidence to back this theory up? I decided to take a look.
Nocebo Effect – The Flip Side of Placebo Effect
Humans have greatly improved their quality of life with the help of scientific and technological developments. It is the power of the human mind that we have been so successful in inventing and discovering things that have helped improve our lives. However, even today the true power of the human mind remains a mystery. It is weird how we can use our mind to understand complex terminologies but at the same time, the workings of our own brain remain a like a lengthy and complicated Mathematical equation.
One of the few complexities of the human brain is the placebo effect which in turn can also act in reverse as the nocebo effect. Both of these terms take some time to understand. Let us begin with the simplest comparison between the two. A placebo effect is taken to be a beneficial effect while the nocebo effect is taken as a negative effect.
The term placebo effect is mostly related to medical science. Placebos are medical drugs or treatments that are used to induce the feeling that a certain drug or treatment is making a positive change in the patient. One of the most common placebos is sugar pills. Sometimes, doctors even perform sham surgery to induce the placebo effect.
Placebos are also used in medical research to understand the effects of a drug or treatment. To explain this, consider the following scenario:
“Suppose that a medical research is taking place about a drug that is supposed to be a treatment for high cholesterol. Some of the participants will be administered the real drug while others will be given a placebo without anybody being the wiser. This is an efficient way to find out the effectiveness of a drug or treatment and also find the side effects.”
The placebo effect is the collective term for the responses induced by a placebo. Sometimes, a person might respond despite knowing that they were administered a placebo. Placebos can produce responses in conditions such as depression, pain, sleep disorders, menopause and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The common thing among all these conditions is that they are all related to mind, stress and anxiety.
The research conducted on the placebo effect has studied it in terms of how the mind and the body are related. The research shows that the placebo effect is produced due to the expectations of a person. The mind is a powerful tool and sometimes our thoughts can actually manifest physically.
As mentioned earlier, the placebo effect has a flip side known as the nocebo effect which is opposite in meaning as well. when the body responds negatively to a substance that in reality should not be producing any effect, it is called the nocebo effect.
A Harvard psychiatrist, Arthur Barsky, stated that some people are so convinced about something turning out to be bad that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Here are a few things to consider if you want to understand how the workings of our mind can affect our physical conditions:
Reading all this might make you believe that our body is being controlled by our mind. However, that is not the case. Humans are supreme beings on this planet. We were created alongside many different creatures; some of which are intelligent beings but we were still created to surpass all of them. The reason is that we can tame our minds and the physical effects it might produce quite naturally.
The placebo and nocebo effects both make us learn how our thoughts can affect our physical actions or conditions. The placebo effect is about positive conditions but the nocebo effect is about negative responses so it requires our attention.
It is important to understand that keeping your mind in a positive state will make you feel positive. Therefore, we believe in the concept of hope. However, many will argue that happiness is not a choice; this opinion is more common among those who deal with mental health issues. It is correct that happiness is not a choice but we need to understand the difference between not believing in hope and feeling no hope. It is difficult to change someone’s belief but we can certainly help someone gravitate towards feeling hope and positive thoughts.
We live in a society which is full of judgement. Being non-judgemental can be practised but it is natural to form an opinion at the first glance. If your opinion is negative and it is not in any manner help someone positively, it is suggested you keep it to yourself.
We don’t need to understand the effect of negative thoughts only on us but also the effect of negative suggestions and opinions on others. To create a positive and, physically and mentally healthy society we all need to promote positivity. We need to differentiate between constructive and destructive criticism.
On the other hand, we must train our minds to ignore negativity; either from within or an external source. Negative thoughts are natural but they don’t need to be persistent. Persistent negativity can manifest into negative physical conditions.
Our lives are highly connected with technology but somehow we have ended up reducing the human connection. We can recreate it by being positive and promoting positivity.
…and the next time you decide to “google” your symptoms, think twice about it and instead, trust that you’re body will heal with time, rest, and proper nutrition.
Think happy my friends! thanks for stopping by.
By Conquering the mind, you can conquer the world. -Guru Nanak We’ve all…