Tylenol May Help Ease Anxiety

Health Writer

The fear of death. Most people fear death, at least a little. We fear the unknown of what awaits, or doesn't await us, after we leave this life. Death is filled with mystery and is "the great unknown." Many people, however, believe that our souls live on after death. They may be afraid of dying because they fear what will happen to them in the afterlife. According to many religious beliefs, your soul is judged for your sins when you die and this determines what happens to your soul. This thought can be frightening as well.

For some, the fear of death is overwhelming. The extreme fear of death is called thanatophobia. If you suffer from this, even the thought of death, even when completely healthy, can send you into complete panic. When severe, it can cause you to shut yourself off from the world. As with many types of anxiety, your anxiety takes over your life. Thanatophobia, like other types of phobias, is traditionally treated with cognitive behavioral therapy or medications.

A New Study May Offer an Alternative: Tylenol

The study was completed at the University of British Columbia. Participants were given acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol while completing tasks involving writing about death or watching a David Lynch surreal video - both developed to cause anxiety because of the uncertainty surrounding them. Other participants received a placebo.

Afterwards, participants were asked to gives fines to different crimes, such as prostitution and public rioting. Those who took the acetaminophen gave lighter fines than those who took the placebo. They were also better able to cope with worrisome ideas.

The lead author, Daniel Randles, states, "Pain extends beyond tissue damage and hurt feelings and includes the distress and existential angst we feel when we're uncertain or have just experienced surreal. Regardless of the kind of pain, taking Tylenol seems to inhibit the brain signal that says something is wrong"That a drug used primarily to alleviate headaches might also numb people to the worry of thoughts of their deaths, or to the uneasiness of watching a surrealist film, is a surprising and very interesting finding." [1]

Although the results are interesting, and warrant a closer look and more research, it isn't yet time to reach for the Tylenol to alleviate your anxiety.

Precautions Before Taking Tylenol

Tylenol can cause liver damage if taken in larger than recommended doses. You should check all medication for acetaminophen and never take more than one medication with this ingredient without first talking to your doctor. If you have overdosed on acetaminophen, you should immediately seek medical help.

Because of the risk of liver damage, those who consume 3 or more alcoholic drinks a day should not take medications with acetaminophen without first talking to their doctor.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should talk with their doctor before taking any medications containing acetaminophen.

It is important to tell your doctor and pharmacist all medications you are taking, including over-the-counter medications to make sure there is not a chance of overdose or potentially dangerous interactions.


"Tylenol  (Acetominophen) - Warnings and Precautions," Updated 2006, July 3, Staff Writer, DrugLib.com

[1] "Tylenol Can Ease Anxiety Over Fear of Dying," 2013, April 19, Staff Writer, Medical News Today