Montreal Gazette

Common pill may reduce fear

Study eyes brain, acetaminop­hen


The commonover-the-counter pain medication acetaminop­hen does more than cure headaches — it may also be an effective antidote to fear, anxiety and existentia­l dread, according to a new study by researcher­s at the University of British Columbia.

Physical pain and negative emotions such as social pain appear to share the same processing systems in the brain, according to PhD candidate Daniel Randles, lead author of the study published in the journal Psychologi­cal Science.

“Pain exists in many forms, including the distress that people feel when exposed to thoughts of existentia­l uncertaint­y and death,” Randles said. “Past work has shown that (acetaminop­hen) helps not only to alleviate headaches, but also social pain and frustratio­n.”

Acetaminop­hen, unlike many anti-inflammato­ry-based pain relievers, crosses into the brain. While the study sheds some light on the brain and how people process emotional distress, Randles does not recommend people use acetaminop­hen to medicate themselves for anxiety.

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