Researchers at the University of British Columbia say they've discovered yet another use for Tylenol besides breaking a fever and relieving pain: Reducing anxiety associated with "thoughts of existential uncertainty and death."
Published in the journal Psychological Science, the research involved a double-blind study in which several groups of participants were given either Tylenol-brand acetaminophen or a placebo.
Members of the Tylenol groups reported feeling less upset following conversations about death and other existential topics.
"Nobody has shown this before, and we are surprised that the effect emerged so robustly," said lead researcher Daniel Randles, "that a drug meant primarily to alleviate headaches also prevents people from being bothered all that much by thinking about death. It was certainly surprising."
One of the study groups was tasked with watching a "surreal [and] confusing" short film by David Lynch and discussing it afterwards.
The researchers found that those who had taken the Tylenol did not experience feelings of existential dread and "looked just like the control group that hadn't talked about their death or watched the unpleasant [film] clip."
Previous studies have already determined the effects acetaminophen can have on social anxiety due to its impact on the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex — the part of the brain that hands both physical pain and social distress.
One study noted by PsychCentral found that Tylenol can also be useful in reducing "the non-physical pain of being ostracized from friends."
[photo via AP]