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Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2007 May-Jun;29(3):275-7.

Nocebo effects with antidepressant clinical drug trial placebos.

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  • 1GV (Sonny) VA Medical Center, Mental Health Service, Jackson, MS 39216, USA.


We describe an individual who experienced unusual negative effects while taking a placebo during a clinical drug trial. A 26-year-old male took 29 inert capsules, believing he was overdosing on an antidepressant. Subsequently, he experienced hypotension requiring intravenous fluids to maintain an adequate blood pressure until the true nature of the capsules was revealed. The adverse symptoms then rapidly abated. The nocebo effect (undesirable symptoms following administration of an inert substance that the patient believes to be an active drug) may have significant negative impacts on certain patients. Further research is warranted to better understand this phenomenon.

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