Painful memories and feelings can be reduced with pain relievers
Taking commercial painkillers not only relieves physical pain, it also seems to help women cope with emotionally painful experiences. However, the same effect could not be found in men.
Scientists at the University of California found that taking painkillers appears to reduce emotional pain, but this only applies to women. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences".
Women cope with painful memories better with pain relievers
When reviewing various studies, the experts found that women taking ibuprofen and acetaminophen experienced less grief or uncomfortable feelings due to emotionally painful experiences compared to women taking placebo. However, the same result could not be seen in men who were taking non-prescription pain relievers.
Pain relievers have a massive impact on feelings
Over-the-counter pain relievers affect how people process information, respond to emotionally evocative images, and experience hurt feelings. The results of the study showed that people taking painkillers are less sensitive when they are confronted with pain from strangers, for example. So such painkillers seem to block certain emotions in the brain, the doctors suspect.
The psychological side effects could surprise consumers
In many ways, the verified results are alarming, the researchers say. When taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, consumers assume that it will alleviate their physical symptoms. Those affected certainly do not expect the psychological effects to be greater, study author Dr. explains. Kyle Ratner.
Psychological effects of taking ibuprofen
Taking ibuprofen caused women to experience less uncomfortable feelings due to emotionally painful experiences. Such experiences included, for example, writing down cases in which the victims were cheated. The researchers also found that the pills affect the ability to empathize with other people's pain.
Psychological effects of taking acetaminophen
When taking paracetamol, patients were less considerate of other people and less emotionally sad when faced with someone else's pain. The pain reliever also appears to reduce reactions to emotional objects, for example unpleasant photos are rated as less disruptive compared to subjects taking placebo. Paracetamol also seems to make it easier for people to separate from certain objects. When asked to set a retail price for such an object in their possession, the participants set lower prices by taking paracetamol.
More research is needed
It must now be determined in other studies whether the pain relievers have negative effects on people who take them in combination with other medications or are depressed, says Dr. Ratner. If the preliminary results are confirmed, policy makers should consider new regulations that take into account the potential risks and benefits to public health. (as)