Acetaminophen May Dull Your Emotions, As Well As Your Pain


Acetaminophen is the most commonly-used over-the-counter analgesic out there. You’ve probably got some of it in your medicine cabinet, and it turns out that it might not only be a pain reliever, but also something that reduces your emotional reaction to, well, pretty much everything.

In the study, subjects were given either acetaminophen or a placebo, and then shown either very happy or very disturbing imagery. In all cases, the painkiller was also an emotion killer; subjects not only had less of a reaction to the images, they were completely unaware that their emotional response had been reduced. Which is not worrying at all for a drug that’s been on the market for 70 years and is in a surprising number of products.

It’s been known for a while that acetaminophen has some sort of psychological effect, but this is the first study to find that effect is actually global and can affect both positive and negative emotions. It’s intriguing in the sense that it indicates how we feel physical pain is far more tightly connected to our emotional state than we thought, and that suppressing one may be involved in suppressing the other. Also at issue is whether other over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and aspirin have the same effects, which is currently being studied.

Either way, it’s worth keeping in mind, especially for those who are taking other medications for their state of mind. After all, you want to be healthy, not numb.

(Source: Popular Science)