Researchers led by a University of Florida psychologist have found in a study that acetaminophen, an ingredient of painkillers, can relieve not only physical pain but hurt feelings.
The study, published in the journal Psychological Science with Gregory Webster as co-author, found that people who took acetaminophen daily for three weeks reported less emotional suffering over time.
People in the study group also showed less activity in regions of the brain that react to social rejection compared to another group who took placebo.
The findings qualify acetaminophen as a treatment for minor social pains instead of more powerful drugs, according to Webster. He added that acetaminophen could sway a victim of aggression from destructive actions.
Webster, however, cautioned that taking Tylenol to cope with personal problems is not yet recommended until further research is done to verify results of their study.
The brain activity was measured using a functional magnetic resonance imaging. Participants to the tests were provoked to feel socially rejected through a computerized game of cyberball. Three participants play the game until two of them stop passing the ball to one.
One group of 24 men and six women took 500-mg pill of acetaminophen upon waking up and before going to sleep. Another group took placebo. Each night, the participants were asked to rate their level of hurt feelings during the day.
The experiment lasted three weeks and those who took real pain relievers reported significantly fewer hurt feelings on the average than those who took the placebo.
The study also showed that activity in areas of the brain linked to emotional feelings was lesser in the first group than in the second group.
Webster said their findings suggests that treating mental health issues should be done in the same way physical health issues are treated instead of having separate systems for the two.