Nocebo effects with antidepressant clinical drug trial placebos

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2007 May-Jun;29(3):275-7. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2007.01.010.


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.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Depression / drug therapy*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Humans
  • Hypotension / psychology*
  • Male
  • Personality Tests
  • Placebo Effect*
  • Placebos / adverse effects*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Placebos