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Mending a Broken Heart? Take Two Aspirin

Close up to a pair of hands. Left hand with wedding ring holding two round pills and right hand holding a glass of water.

Anyone who has ever had their heart broken in a relationship knows that getting over the pain can be a long and difficult journey. While some well-meaning friends and relatives may try to help by saying things like “you’ll get over it in time”, they don’t realize that all of us heal at a different pace and for some of us it could take an extended period of time.


Because mending a broken heart may be easier and quicker for some individuals than others, there’s no definitive way to determine the average length of time required for most people to get over the heartbreak or a way to speed up the process. Or, is there?


Aspirin could be the best remedy

As it turns out, scientists believe popping a couple of aspirin as you would for a headache from a hangover might be the best remedy to get over a recent break-up.

According to Psychology Professor Walter Mischel, of Columbia University, researchers have found that psychological pain associated with a break-up is similar to physical pain and should be treated as such. In other words, you should treat both the same way – with a pain reliever like aspirin.


Young Woman Discussing Problems With Counselor

Discussing your feelings can slow recovery

Professor Mischel also strongly believes that the more you discuss your feelings with others, the more you’ll increase your odds of depression and suggests keeping the brooding to a minimum. Furthermore, the professor adds, “When you look at a picture of the one who broke your heart, you experience a pain in a similar area of the brain which is activated when you burn your arm.” Of course, don’t try this at home.

Professor Mischel stands behind the old physician advice to “take two aspirins and call me in the morning”. Since Professor Mischel states there is a solid basis for the medicinal recommendation, he’s confident it can be helpful in providing relief for the broken-hearted.

In fact, some people actually get worse by continuing to discuss the subject. The more anxiety and stress you put on yourself by talking about your shattered heart, the higher your chance of developing serious health issues. And, if you don’t have health insurance, it could be an expensive endeavour should you become ill as a result of your heartbreak.

Over-the counter painkiller vs. placebo

And, the evidence seems to back him up. Past studies have shown that people suffering from the pain of romantic rejection experienced the same feeling as they did from physical pain. Research subjects participating in the tests given an over-the-counter non-prescription painkiller, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, were determined to be more capable of handling feelings of rejection than test subjects given a placebo.


Before you grab the aspirin or ibuprofen, Professor Mischel offers another bit of advice. For this heartbreak relief prescription to work, avoid recalling painful events that led to the break-up and speaking about it incessantly to anyone who will listen. While talking about it in an attempt to understand why it happened can be helpful to an extent with some individuals, new research shows it could have an opposite effect with others.


Portrait of executive businesswoman with office in the background.

Self-distancing yourself from the hurt

The bottom line is – stop recounting the hurtful experience of a personal break-up to your friends, relatives or therapist. Instead, try “self-distancing” yourself from what happened so as to not continually reactivate the pain, which only holds you back in your effort to heal and move on. Another positive effect of the self-distancing technique is that it has been proven to lower blood pressure caused by emotional distress.


However, should you feel the need to consult your healthcare professional because nothing seems to be helping, don’t hesitate to do so.


In the meantime, if anyone asks you for the best way to mend a broken heart, tell them – keep your chin up and take two aspirin.

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