Several studies show what many of us in the holistic community have known for years-many people with mild or even severe depression have the same response to placebo as to antidepressant medications. This week’s edition of Newsweek has a great article showing the research to back up this conclusion.
Antidepressants are one of the most overprescribed drugs for people (and becoming so for pets too.) Even though not approved for children and adolescents, they are also overprescribed for patients in these age groups as well.
While a rare number of people actually need these psychotropic medications, studies have shown that with proper counseling and life style changes, most people respond as well to placebo (which is cheaper and without side effects) as they do when prescribed antidepressants.
Skeptical doctors and veterinarians have long complained, without proof, that “alternative” therapies only work via the placebo effect (while ignoring that conventional medications can also work by placebo effect.)
However, integrative healers like myself appreciate the positive side of the placebo effect. What the placebo effect tells us is that all of us have the God-given, inborn ability to heal without medications. While medications have their proper place in fighting disease, ultimately people and pets heal when we encourage natural healing ability. The placebo effect proves that in many cases, (and according to the studies reported in Newsweek in many cases of depression,) healing can occur without expensive drugs that may have serious side effects (such as suicide, worsening depression, and murder that have been reported in people treated with antidepressants.)
The conclusion is simple but will be ignored by many skeptical doctors-healing can occur without drugs. When drugs are needed, they should be used with the goal of eventually weaning the patient off of the drugs.
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