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Don't Panic! Worrying about your health can trigger real symptoms

Your mom always told you that worrying would make the shot worse, and now research confirms that some things really do hurt more if you think they will.A study published recently in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research tested whether watching a video that warned about the negative health effects of electromagnetic fields would influence whether people developed actual symptoms. More than half the test subjects reported strange symptoms like headaches and tingling when they were told they were being exposed to a Wi-Fi signal—even though they actually weren’t. Participants who watched the scary video (versus a neutral video) were much more likely to feel the effects of “exposure.”The findings confirm the power of placebo’s dark cousin, “nocebo”—in which a person’s negative expectations about a health situation can lead to real-life symptoms. “If someone expects adverse health effects, it’s very likely they will focus more on the body and notice sensations that might be falsely attributed to electromagnetic fields,” says study coauthor Michael Witthöft of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany. Th …

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