Many Canadians turn to medications containing acetaminophen when their heads start throbbing. After all, it’s fast-acting and super effective for pain relief.
But according to a new study out of Ohio State University, relieving pain isn’t the only thing that ingredient is doing. Researchers found that when participants took acetaminophen, their ability to feel empathy and positive emotions like joy were reduced.
To come up with these results, researchers conducted an experiment involving 80 college students. Half of the students were given acetaminophen while the others drank a placebo. Once the drug took effect, participants read scenarios that involved suffering and some sort of pain–such as the death of a parent. The group was then asked to rate the pain each person in the scenarios experienced from 1 to 5.
Overall, those who consumed acetaminophen rated the pain in the scenarios lower than those who didn’t. Similar results were produced in other tests the researchers administered.
“We don’t know why acetaminophen is having these effects, but it is concerning,” Assistant Professor of Psychology, Baldwin Way, said. “Empathy is important. If you are having an argument with your spouse and you just took acetaminophen, this research suggests you might be less understanding of what you did to hurt your spouse’s feelings.”
Earlier research out of Ohio State University also found that the ingredient can stifle your ability to feel happy.
Many over-the-counter products contain acetaminophen. Tylenol, Nyquil and Robitussin are just a few examples. And it’s also commonly found in prescription medication, so make sure to talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.
After all, medications are supposed to cure problems, not cause them.