Service of Feeling Indecisive or Rejected? An Over the Counter Pain Pill Can Fix That

October 5th, 2015

Categories: Health, Side Effects


You probably know this if you read health journals but I don’t read them and therefore I didn’t know: A side effect of over the counter [OTC] pain meds that contain acetaminophen such as Tylenol or Excedrin can do more than kill pain. It seems that the drug can make an indecisive person resolute and a rejected person feel less castoff and abandoned.

Not all the side effects are that good. As the title of Susan Pinker’s article hints at, “Less Pain, Less Joy: New Look at Acetaminophen,” the drug “muffles your happiness too” as an “all-purpose damper, stifling a range of strong feelings.”

Five years ago, according to Pinker, two psychologists reported that three weeks OTC pain medson one of these OTCs, “soothed social pain like feelings of exclusion or ridicule.” [The article doesn’t say nor do I know whether taking such a drug for that long could negatively affect your stomach or cause other unwanted physical reactions.]

And in a recent study researchers found that the “more intense the emotions, the more acetaminophen muted them.” The drug “alters the circuits that govern our emotional responses,” Pinker wrote.

Feeling left outI’m an Advil advocate–Tylenol has zero impact on headaches or pain for me–and Pinker says researchers have yet to study side effects of OTCs with ibuprofen like Advil or Motrin. Who knows: Maybe if I take Advil over a long  enough period of time I might get good at math or ignore the psychological smacks of thoughtless people. One can always hope.

Are you under the impression that OTC drugs are benign? Have you noticed mood changes or a different outlook if you’ve been on an OTC drug of any kind for a period of time? I doubt psychological side effects are posted on OTC pill boxes, but are you diligent in reading potential side effects on remedies you pick up at the drugstore?


 At drug store

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6 Responses to “Service of Feeling Indecisive or Rejected? An Over the Counter Pain Pill Can Fix That”

  1. Judy Schuster Said:

    I’ve known for years that Tylenol or other OTC drugs that contain acetaminophen can cause severe liver damage. In fact, that’s why the manufactuers caution people that they should not take more than six tablets a day. I’ve taken Tylenol fairly regularly for months, along with some form of ibuprofen because I can only take low doses of ibuprofen or it causes severe stomach problems. I don’t notice any side affects of the drugs, though it may indeed dampen some strong feelings. That’s still better than taking more opiates than I already take for severe back pain.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Interesting first hand experience–thank you. I haven’t taken pain killers for a long period as thankfully headaches, strained muscles or slammed knees have reacted quickly to just a few. You are not the slightest bit indecisive so that you wouldn’t notice a change in that regard.

    I’ve known something was up with such medicines for eons as my father kept an eye on Bufferin use when I was a kid. There was a bottle in the medicine cabinet and as I got headaches, I’d take a few now and again. He left only four or six in the bottle so he knew when some where missing and he’d ask around as to who took them and what for. I always thought it was so he knew if one of us was sick and didn’t want to say but it also was because he didn’t want us to be taking too many of these meds.

  3. hb Said:

    This is scary as all get out. Yes, I was vaguely aware, with exceptions,that non-prescription drugs had side affects, but not to this extent. Nexium, for example, used to be a prescription drug and now isn’t. It’s side effects have been well publicized, but that is an exception.

    When we all smoked, at least we knew that what we were doing was bad for us. Then again, nobody who is in his or her right mind, doesn’t understand the lethal danger involved when one consumes narcotics such as marijuana, cocaine or opium. But this is different.

    The closest parallel that comes to mind is Coca Cola. Most people are not at all aware of its addictive and other negative side affects. Asa Chandler, the man who built “Coke” into a national brand, was a contemporary, business colleague and good friend of one of my great grandfathers, who repeatedly warned his children and grandchildren not to drink the stuff. Apparently, Chandler, a pharmacist by training, had such a low opinion of the beverage, which had made him rich, that he would not serve it in his own home and forbade his family drinking it.

    Thank you for warning us.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Hate reading that about Coke, a favorite treat. My parents never had any in the house. Goodness knows where I learned to love it.

    I was intrigued by the idea that something like Tylenol could soften the blow of rejection. Powerful and not negative. Employees with indecisive bosses might be grinding up the meds and slipping them in coffee and water as I write this…just imagine what a relief a change in the boss would be for them.

  5. Lucrezia Said:

    None of these so called remedies have helped, so it’s been years since I’ve taken any. I don’t recall any mood swings, only displeasure after having swallowed costly ineffective junk. The upside is the discovery that most “pains” addressed by the advertiser usually vanish by being ignored, through exercise, or both.

    The one concern not being addressed is the fact that most of the hurting individuals shown in TV ads are young. What happens if and when they reach my age? Walkers? Crutches? Old folks homes?

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’ve learned that if I ignore a headache it only gets worse, followed by nausea and worse headache that lasts and lasts. Two Advil usually does the trick. I’ve tried pushing pressure points and that does nothing.

    I’ve been given strong prescription stuff after extensive surgery in my mouth and find that three Advil the day of the event is all I need. The Codeine in Rx drugs makes me queasy and isn’t worth taking.

    While I’d love to experiment and take Execedrin or Tylenol for a few weeks to see what happens, I worry about what Judy described–that it could make a hash of my liver–and also that when I need it, the stuff won’t work because I’ve overdone it.

    I haven’t seen commercials lately for things like headache–more about cancer, emphysema, diabetes….and models of appropriate ages. But the side effects for these remedies are so dire they give me the chills.

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