The medications that change who we are
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"When you give somebody a drug, you don’t just give it to a person – you give it to a social system. And we really don’t understand the effects of these medications in the broader context.”
There’s emerging evidence that ordinary medications - from paracetamol to antihistamines, statins, asthma medications, and antidepressants - can change our brains. They can make us impulsive, angry, or restless, and even alter aspects of our personalities.
In most people, changes from taking medicine are extremely subtle. But in some, they can also be dramatic.
No one is arguing that people should stop taking their medication. However, it is important for people to be informed about how the treatment might potentially change their personalities.
Paracetamol blunts physical pain by reducing activity in certain brain areas, such as the insular cortex, which plays an important role in our emotions. Paracetamol can blunt our social pain too.
Recent research has revealed that our brain's pain centers also share their home with empathy. Paracetamol significantly reduces our ability to feel positive empathy.
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