No, placebo effect means that you are convinced that what you take has an effect so you indeed get a response. It can apply to basically everything. In the case of an antidepressant, it means that you convince yourself that you feel something so you feel better and start behaving differently, thinking that it is the drug, when in fact it is only your doing. It shows how strong is the influence of our psyche. Even for physical disease, it has been proven that sometimes, when a patient is convinced that a particular drug will work, you can observe some improvement even if he only takes a sugar pill (of course I am not saying that it is systematic and that you can cure, let's say a cancer, with sugar pills and a placebo effect). But that has been documented.
But in my case i don't know if it was a placebo effect that made exposure easier or if the med had a real effect due to its chemical components. In any case, I wambetter now and that is all that matter. I even had my first sexual experience last week end, that is a huge confidence booster. Even if the effect of the med fade out, I feel now confident and normal enough to live as I want (more or less, like most people of course).
I think med worth a try if you really feel down. I had some unpleasant experience with some of them (nothing dramatic though), but I was really in a bad place when i started paxil and now I feel better than ever before (that's not complicated, as long as I remember I have never felt happy). Just don't expect miracles from it.
Yes, I am familiar with the placebe effect. I watched a documentary about it earlier this year and there's plenty of reasearch being done on it. As you also mentioned, for some the placebo effect can work really well. While there hasn't been much progress made in terms of understanding how it works, a few things seem to enhance the effect. For example, the more expansive the "medication" the better the result tends to be (on average). It even worked for a certain type of knee surgery.
Much like SA and many health issues, maybe in the future we'll have better understanding and diagnostics.
In my case, SA is finally gone completely (recently). I guess I was somewhat lucky and my SA issues were more context based but didn't affect how I felt in general. While I wanted to overcome it without drugs, had I known that SA reduction in certain contexts would take much longer than I expected (e.g. in the most intense case almost a decade), I may have done things differently.
As you mentioned, I know that others seem to be dealing with other aspects as well and medication can be beneficial temporary tool.