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Taking Aspirin the Fastest Way to Get Over Breakups, Psychologist

Update Date: Sep 29, 2014 06:30 PM EDT
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Shutting up and swallowing a couple of over-the-counter painkillers might be the best way to mend a broken heart, according to scientists.

Numerous studies have found similarities between psychological pain and physical pain, which is why psychologist Professor Walter Mischel of Columbia University believes that heartache should be treated like headaches or backaches.

Mischel also believes that people should refrain from discussing their break-up with friends as brooding and rumination will only increase the risk of depression.

"When we speak about rejection experiences in terms of physical pain, it is not just a metaphor - the broken heart and emotional pain really do hurt in a physical way," Mischel told The Telegraph.

"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," he said, according to the Metro. "'Take two aspirins and call me in the morning' would be a cold-hearted response to a friend's late-night report of fresh heartbreak, but it has a solid basis in the research."

However, brain scans show that people experience feelings of rejection the same way they experience physical pain. Participants in previous experiments who were given over-the-counter painkillers like aspirin or ibuprofen handled social rejection significantly better than those administered placebo pills.

Scientific findings suggest that people should go against traditional wisdom and skip talking about break-ups and other painful experiences with friends and family.

"Common wisdom suggests that if we thoroughly revisit our negative experiences to try to understand why they happened, we'll eventually be able to move on," he said.

"However, new research is showing that some people only get worse by continuing to brood and ruminate.

"Each time they recount the experience to themselves, their friends or their therapist, they only become more depressed. Self-distancing, in contrast, allows them to get a more objective view, without reactivating their pain, and helps them get past the experience," he added.

In his new book "The Marshmallow Test; Understanding Self-Control and How to Master It," Mischel notes that self-distancing can also lower blood pressure caused by emotional distress.

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