The moment you feel a little pain, like a headache or a cramp, what do you do? Do you drink water? Do you lie down? Or do you resort in popping acetaminophen, just to ease the pain?
I bet you’ll take the latter one, right? Painkillers are such an easy remedy, but according to a new study published in Psychological Science, acetaminophen (trade name: Tylenol) may also dull our emotional sensitivity — to both pain and pleasure.
Researchers from Ohio State University included 82 participants for the study – half of them took acetaminophen (Tylenol), while the other half took a placebo.
After letting the medicine process in their systems for about an hour, participants’ emotional reactions were analyzed when researchers showed them 40 different images. The photos included both sad images (such as starving children) and happy ones (including children playing with animals).
The results indicated that participants who took acetaminophen had less of an emotional reaction when they saw both very pleasant and very disturbing photos, when compared to those who took placebos. Acetaminophen caused the group to appear “more neutral and less emotionally intense.”
This means that using Tylenol or similar products might have broader consequences than previously thought. Rather than just being a pain reliever, acetaminophen can be seen as an all-purpose emotion reliever,” said Geoffrey Durso, lead author of the study.
However, due to the small nature of the study and the limited amount of participants, more research is needed to establish a link between painkillers and emotions. Also, some participants in the study, were not conscious about the effects of the medicine on their emotions.
Most people probably are not aware of how their emotions may be impacted when they take acetaminophen. People who took acetaminophen didn’t feel the same highs or lows as did the people who took placebos,” said Baldwin Way, who is an assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University.