The power of the nocebo (opposite the placebo) is real in causing elevated physical symptoms in the body. This brain mechanism is a part of the focus point in the treatment of mind-body health disorders.
This quote from a research article caught my eye. ‘It is estimated that up to 97% of reported pharmaceutical side effects are not caused by the drug itself but rather by nocebo effects and symptom misattribution. These nocebo effects can cause symptoms serious enough to require hospitalization and medical intervention.’ I certainly see have seen this in the people I work with.
It has also been shown that elevated fear leads to a greater nocebo pain response, as shown in this study. Fear is the emotion most closely linked to nocebo reactions in the body and something we need to look for and treat when dealing with mind-body health symptoms.
‘In line with our hypothesis, we found a significant association between increased levels of fear of medical pain and nocebo hyperalgesia. Results from the present study suggest that dispositional fear of pain might be a useful predictor for nocebo hyperalgesia and emotional states concomitant with expectations of increased pain.’