Illustrating the power of the mind to heal itself, new research suggests that the placebo effect could help drive antidepressants’ effects against anxiety disorders.

The placebo effect refers to an increase in the success of a treatment when a patient expects a benefit.

In the new study, patients with social anxieties who were assured that antidepressants would help them were much more likely to feel better than those who didn’t receive such assurances, despite receiving exactly the same treatment.

“Almost four times as many patients responded to the treatment when correct information about the drug was given,” said study author Olof Hjorth, of Uppsala University in Sweden.

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“This is consistent with previous research showing that expectations affect treatment outcome,” he noted in a university news release.

In the study, participants received varying information about the drug and its effectiveness.

Half of the patients received accurate information about the drug and its effectiveness, while the other half were told that the drug was only an “active placebo” that causes similar side effects as SSRIs but was not likely to ease their social anxiety.

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