The Nocebo effect – When “self-diagnosis” power on the Internet sick

Placebo effect means that a positive expectation accelerates the healing. The opposite is the Nocebo effect, in which a negative expectation slows down the healing or even a disease promotes. If medical laymen on Internet forums, even make a diagnosis on your symptoms, it can lead to a Nocebo effect.

Nocebo effect -If media reports sick

In the Internet search results that point to severe diseases like cancer are found too often. People may notice symptoms in yourself, you feel sometimes due to the Nocebo effect sick.

Those who are afraid to suffer from a serious illness, and on the Internet for his symptoms, can amplify his negative expectation so that symptoms are getting worse. (Image:

The Internet does not replace a medical diagnosis

Even on reputable sites in the network, diagnoses are often kept in General. Reputable sites refer to the fact that and as Doctors what are the symptoms suspect to make a specific diagnosis. Anyone who is well informed as a layman on the Internet, indicates the described symptoms, however, often wrong, or sees their own symptoms as worse than they are, especially given the many symptoms are nonspecific, and the treatment of different diseases.

Anxiety can worsen

A lot of people googling for the cause of symptoms because you are worried whether your discomfort is a serious disease. Without a solid medical diagnosis, you bump now to have a possible life-threatening diseases without the option to exclude them. The fear and often the symptoms are worse than before.

Not even the diagnosis

Diagnoses are always individual and must come from a doctor or health care professional. Also serious posts on the Internet do not give the opportunity to Diagnose, because the individual history of the disease is in the patient’s conversation.

Popularity vs. respectability

In the case of Google, you encounter first on the pages that are clicked on most frequently. Medical trade magazines, follow far behind. Many clicks to get attention-grabbing messages, which describe the normal state. The headline “abdominal pain – any signs of cancer,” promises a lot more attention than “abdominal pain mostly harmless”. Therefore, they do not land, if you are abdominal pain googling, probably as the first in a post that this could be a sign of cancer, and not one that you most likely.

A Paradise of Subjectivity

The Internet has democratized journalism. The shadow side of this is: Everyone can make a Blog and become the expert swing without the technical Background. This is true for archaeology as for the politics, but for medicine. The Internet is full with scientific topic ideas about diseases rose to a dangerous panic, the spread, for example, opponents.

What should you look for?

First of all, you should see no self-diagnosis, but a doctor. If you inform yourself in the Internet about medical issues, pay attention to the criteria for determining whether a contribution appears to be serious.

Mark serious posts

The contribution is currently? The information should not be older than two years. Who is the author? He has a professional Background or the contribution of a medical specialist has examined the person? Is credible the source is worthy? The Text spread advertising products without this label? Drama of the contribution for the octopus? Turns out the Text only method of healing as the ultimate, without giving reasons for this sound? Who is the source for information? Reputable sites cite studies, quote specialists and/or other scientists.

Check yourself

Avoid the self-fulfilling prophecy. If you are afraid to suffer from a serious illness, it is better to seek medical advice than to search the Internet. Why? There is the risk of self-fulfilling prophecy. If you have, for example, a fear of suffering from cancer, they tend to be pages, which you confirm. Here the danger is particularly large, so-called Schwurbler forums to come, the members of each other with the wrong information in the Alarm enable.

What can you do?

Compare multiple sources that you trust as a reputable and a filter so that information can be found on different pages and/or which are questionable. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)