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The Effect of Ibuprofen That Has Nothing to Do With Physical Pain Relief (and It’s Different for Men and Women)


"Could go a long way toward helping couples."

Ibuprofen is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve aches and pains, but it apparently can ease some emotional anguish as well.

ibuprofen Ibuprofen can do more than just ease physical pain in women, according to a new study. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Research from the University of Texas though found this latter effect — that physical pain and some feelings "share the same neural system" and thus can be relieved by the same drug — seemed to only be true for women. Men who took the drug in the study still experienced negative feelings.

Professor Anita Vangelisti and her colleagues conducted a study where both men and women were excluded from a game. The women who took ibuprofen had less hurt feelings over the rejection than the women who took a placebo. Men, on the other hand, even if they took ibuprofen, still experienced hurt.

"It's possible that taking physical pain relievers provides men with more cognitive resources to express the pain they feel," Vangelisti said in a statement. "There's some evidence that, for men, the part of the brain that enables them to regulate their emotions is linked to the part of the brain that processes physical and social pain. If that's the case, taking a physical pain reliever may affect men's ability to hide or suppress their social pain."

The findings open the road for more research into the differences between how men and women think and express feelings and how much social and physical pain are connected, the university's news release reported.

"Hurt feelings are a part of any close relationship, so learning how to think and talk about the social pain we experience in our relationships is important," Vangelisti said. "Understanding differences in the way women and men deal with their hurt feelings could go a long way toward helping couples cope with these feelings in their romantic and marital relationships."

What's more, Vangelisti said she thinks, if the study's findings prove similar in younger people, it could help researchers "address differences in the way children and adolescents think about and respond to socially painful situations like bullying."

This study was published in the journal Personal Relationships.

(H/T: Daily Mail)

Front page image via Shutterstock.


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