Findings of a study carried out by researchers at the Ohio State University suggest that over-the-counter painkillers, in addition to relieving pain temporarily, also lead to reduced feelings of pleasure in the long run. Researchers were appalled to see acetaminophen containing drugs dulling emotions.

Following this, lead author Geoffrey Durso, a doctoral student said, “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.”

use of painkillers

As a part of the experiments carried out by this team, 82 subjects were asked to take a pill. Half of these respondents were given a placebo while the remaining were given acetaminophen. An hour later, these subjects were shown 40 pictures which included both distressing images ‘like starving children’ and happy ones like ‘children playing with animals.’

Researchers then measure the emotional reactions of all these respondents and saw that those who had taken acetaminophen had less emotional reactions to both positive and negative photos, describing them as “more neutral and less emotionally intense” than the participants who took the placebo. Nothing can yet be stated conclusively because the sample size for the purpose of the study was extremely small.

Inspite of that, the team now plans to find out whether other pain relievers like ibuprofen and aspirin have the same impact.

These findings were first published in the online journal Psychological Science.

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