Africa Studio/shutterstockWhether it’s from a breakup or disappointment about losing a job, we already know that broken heart syndrome is real. That’s one of the reasons that C. Nathan Dewall, a social psychologist at the University of Kentucky, explored what happens when physical and emotional pain overlap.
Dewall had previously studied Vicodin and its effects on emotional pain, which is experienced in the same part of the brain as physical pain, and wanted to see if acetaminophen (you know it as Tylenol) had similar effects. In the study published in Psychological Science, researchers gave participants either a placebo or acetaminophen for three weeks. Participants were then asked to note their levels of emotional pain nightly in terms of what hurt their feelings. Researchers found that those taking pain medication reported lower levels of social or emotional pain, particularly for people who aren’t chosen to be on a team.
Here’s how it works:
Researchers looked at brain imaging and found that after people took the pills, the area of the brain that deals with social pain seemed to show a duller response. Devall explains the concept as someone being aware they are being rejected but not really caring as much. Note that while there were not massive changes in how much pain people felt, it still yielded some results.
That doesn’t mean you should start popping Tylenol, particularly if you have any liver issues, the next time you feel a little sad. Try these natural remedies for overcoming depression first, and talk to your doctor if your depression lasts longer than a few weeks or is severe.