Health

Researcher discovers painkillers also ease the pain of hurt feelings

Researcher discovers painkillers also ease the pain of hurt feelings

Researcher discovers painkillers also ease the pain of hurt feelings

Eliza Cracknell bodyandsoul.com.au

Studies from the University of California reveal you can actually take a pill for a broken heart.

Photo: iStock

New research has revealed that painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, not only ease the pain of a headache but emotional pains as well.

In a review of studies by the University of California, researchers found that women who took painkillers reported less heartache from emotionally painful experiences than those who took a placebo.

Interestingly, the opposite was found in men, where emotions appeared to be heightened by taking the pills.

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Scientists found that when on over-the-counter pain medicine, women reported to be less hurt from experiences like being excluded or reflecting on a time they were betrayed.

They also found that the pills influenced women’s ability to empathise with the pain of others. When reading about a person experiencing physical or emotional pain, those who took a dose of paracetamol felt less regard for the person than those on placebos.

Furthermore, the study discovered painkillers can alter one’s capacity to process information. People who took the drugs made more errors of omission in a game than their placebo counterparts. It also seems to alter discomfort from parting with possessions. When asked to set a selling price on an object they owned, the pill takers set prices cheaper than those who took placebo.

The research also suggests popping an ibuprofen can dull your reaction to emotional objects, with those on painkillers rating pleasant and unpleasant photographs less extremely.

Dr Kyle Ratner, co-author of the study, said: “In many ways, the reviewed findings are alarming.

“Consumers assume that when they take an over-the-counter pain medication, it will relieve their physical symptoms, but they do not anticipate broader psychological effects.”

While the researchers emphasised that further studies are necessary, they suggest the medicine could have new potential for helping people deal with hurt feeling.

The findings were published in the journal Policy Insights from the Behavioural and Brain Sciences.

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