Are you worrying yourself sickI frequently ask Seattle hypnosis clients, “Are you worrying yourself sick?” Expectations can make you ill. Fear can make you fragile. Understanding the nocebo effect may help prevent this painful phenomenon. “Nocebo” (meaning “I shall harm”) is the dastardly sibling of placebo (“I shall please”). In a placebo response, a sham medication or procedure has a beneficial health effect as a result of a patient’s expectation. Sugar pills, for example, can powerfully improve depression when the patient believes them to be antidepressants. But, researchers are learning, the reverse phenomenon is also common: negative expectations can actually cause harm. You can learn self hypnosis to change your thoughts and enhance your health.

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Worried Sick

According to several recent studies, pain and itch appear to be especially susceptible to verbal suggestion. Recently, researchers in the Netherlands demonstrated that people who are told that a stimulus will cause itch feel the itch more intensely than those told that the stimulus is unlikely to cause itch. The finding could have implications for chronic itch conditions, says first author Antoinette van Laarhoven of Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center. “More knowledge about nocebo effects on itch can give us some targets to reduce [those effects].”

The nocebo effect may also have a worrisome effect on vaccine use. In 2011, researchers at the French vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur analyzed 33,275 vaccine side-effect reports and found that doctors and patients preferentially report disease-specific side effects, such as measles-like rash following measles immunization, even when the vaccine contains only proteins, sugars, or killed organisms that won’t cause symptoms of the disease. The nocebo effect has “great potential” to exacerbate rumors and fears, and to cause a vaccine crisis similar to the Eltroxin events in New Zealand, the authors write.

But the most common place where the nocebo effect makes an appearance is in everyday visits to clinics and hospitals. “In places like primary care, people are swimming in placebo and nocebo effects,” says Kaptchuk.

Thomas D’Amico, chief of thoracic surgery at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, says that even before he heard the term nocebo effect, he was aware of it in the clinic. “I’ve listened to some well-respected colleagues give information [to a patient], and I thought, ‘Gosh, I know the operation and even I wouldn’t want it,’” he says. “There’s too much detail and too much emphasis about things that could go wrong.” Measuring the effect of such detail on an individual patient is hard to quantify, he says, but fear and distress before an operation has been associated with slow postoperative recovery and delayed wound healing.

Read Worried Sick


Also read Beware the Nocebo Effect

If you worry yourself sick, the Seattle hypnosis with Roger Moore has mindfulness based solutions for you. You can learn to create peace and harmony for yourself and enhance your health and wellness.

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I create peace and harmony for myself.

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