Note on the Placebo Effect

Psychopharmacological studies also observe effects of treatments that cannot be characterized by the rules of pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics. Studies of drug efficacy typically include placebo groups, and these reveal that a remarkable proportion of subjects experience desirable changes and "side effects" when given a placebo, the biologically inactive substitute for the drug. The very existence of the placebo effect and its high prevalence even in serious persistent disorders such as depression reminds us that manipulations of brain chemistry by means of drugs are subject to interactions with other environmental and intrinsic factors that channel their effects through the same neural circuits in the brain.

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