Real or fake side effects?

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Stress effects people in numerous different ways. Some people deal with stressors as they come while others spend their days worrying about the stressors coming up. There are three approaches to stress discussed in our textbook: stressors as stimuli, stress as a transaction, and stress as a response. Hassles, or little struggles in our life, often cause people to have stress in their daily life. Too much stress can lead to a breakdown, which can happen to anyone who is having trouble coping with their stress.


A specific effect that can occur from stress is the nocebo effect. The nocebo effect is when beliefs can create reality by stirring your emotions so much that they actually come true. This article describes this effect very well. A personal experience dealing with the nocebo effect in my life has to do with my sister. She has anxiety about many things in her daily life and can't control her reactions to her stress very well. For instance, if her friend gets sick with something such as the flu, she will stress herself out so much and make herself believe that she has the flu. She will do this to the extent that she actually gets flu-like symptoms and begins to throw up. It is very sad to watch because she can't help her emotions, which are causing dramatic reactions in her body.


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That's really interesting. I remember reading about the nocebo effect, but I was not aware of the extent of how it can effect people. I guess I have done the same thing though once or twice. We had family over and they were all sick, and I was convinced I was going to be sick and an hour later I didn't feel very well. On a different note, the picture you have for the stressor example is just perfect. That pretty much sums up my reaction to stress (add in some chips to the picture and the reaction is right on). This makes me wonder though, What makes people act differently than another person during stressful situations? I know my mom loses her appetite when stressed, but my stomach seems to be a bottomless pit when I am stressed.

Yes, stress is a major cause of illness for people especially when they are under chronic stress. And as you mention, some people cope better with stress and it has a less corrosive effect on health.

You mention the nocebo effect and a link to stress. While stress responses may play some role in the nocebo effect, what we typically find is that like the placebo effect, it is the expectations people have when they take a particular drug or receive any other kind of treatment for an illness.

The nocebo effect refers to when we expect the adverse side effects of a drug to affect us. For example, if I was to give you a drug to relieve pain but also mentioned that it has a known side effect of producing heartburn, you may be more likely to experience the heartburn and pain relief even if I gave you a sugar pill!

What you are describing with your sister is actually a kind of social contagion effect, where the thoughts, feelings and interactions with another person can transfer behaviors from one to the next.

Both are interesting phenomena, but quite different from each other

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This page contains a single entry by perei049 published on April 29, 2012 1:05 PM.

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