Beliefs about medical treatments affected perceived stress

This 2015 New Zealand human study found:

“Placebo effects can be translated to a real-life setting in the short-term reduction of stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression in a non-patient population.

In treating psychological distress, placebos may be useful addition to the treatment repertoire.

The researchers provided a self-administered 3-day course of fake “anti-stress treatment spray” and told the participants the spray was either “oxytocin” or “serotonin” with these results:

“Both the ‘serotonin’ and ‘oxytocin’ treatment sprays were effective in reducing symptoms of depression; however, only those in the ‘oxytocin’ group reported less stress and anxiety as compared with controls. Overall, the ‘oxytocin’ was perceived as more effective.”

Will this study of non-patients be used to try to justify manipulating patients’ perceptions of their stress, anxiety, and depression? “A take-home placebo treatment can reduce stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression in a non-patient population”

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