We’ve all heard this advice: Take of a couple of Tylenol and call me in the morning. New research suggests that may also relieve some of the pain, when the problem is a broken heart.
A study in Psychological Science, researchers found a link between social and physical pain, and that just as acetaminophen – the active ingredient in Tylenol – can relieve physical pain it also appears to ease social pain and rejection.
In the first experiment, 62 people – half of whom got acetaminophen, the others a placebo – kept a daily diary using a scale to measure their hurt feelings for 21 days.
The people taking acetaminophen showed a reduced level of hurt feelings over the period. In a second experiment, 25 participants played a computerized game that simulated social rejection and had functional magnetic resonance imaging done on two parts of the brain. Those who took acetaminophen showed significantly less activation in both of those areas, which are associated with emotional processing.
However, more research is needed before anyone is going to recommend a daily dose of the drug to ease social pain, loss or rejection.