During his 1932 inaugural presidential speech, former U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt told a nation in the midst of one of the worst economic depressions in history, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Now, a study from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands may prove there’s some scientific basis to this famous quote.

Facing your fears in order to conquer them isn’t only good advice, it may soon be scientific fact — albeit with a catch. Researchers found that by using a treatment known as “memory reconsolidation,” they could reduce volunteers’ arachnophobia by eliminating their fearful memories of spiders. Memory reconsolidation is based on the idea that when a memory is recalled, it must be consolidated all over again. However, using a drug that blocks the formation of new memories can also work to block this reconsolidation process — and by extension, someone’s fear of spiders. The aforementioned catch: the person has to be around the spider for a few minutes.

For the study, the team recruited 45 volunteers to receive a randomized dose of either a placebo or propranolol, an amnestic drug used to treat high blood pressure and heart conditions, which can also cause memory loss. Then, participants were briefly exposed to a tarantula. According to the press release, results revealed that up to a year after the initial treatment, volunteers who had received the propranolol displayed a “drastically reduced” desire to avoid the creatures and were more comfortable with getting close to them.

This isn’t the first time scientists have said exposure can be an effective way to treat phobias. In 2014, British psychiatrist Dr. Russell Green developed Phobia Free — an app that urges users to interact with animated spiders and scorpions in an attempt to help them conquer their fears. However, what makes the Dutch study unique is that it uses amnestic drugs during these fear confrontations.

While it’s normal for us to feel afraid in potentially harmful situations, whether it’s looking down from a high-up building or facing dangerous-looking spiders, a phobia is described as an irrational fear that disrupts sufferers’ quality of life — not only can it cause extreme emotional distress, but it can also interfere with a person’s ability to function normally.

The researchers said more studies would determine how successful this treatment is on different patient populations as well as patients with varying degrees of phobia. But for now, the results are promising. Current phobia and anxiety treatments involve taking a number of sedatives and antidepressant medications, and attending psychotherapy for what could be many years. In a recent statement, co-author Dr. Merel Kindt said this proposed intervention would involve “one single, brief intervention that leads to a sudden, substantial, and lasting loss of fear.”

Source: Soeter M, Kindt M. An Abrupt Transformation of Phobic Behavior After a Post-Retrieval Amnesic Agent. Psychiatric Neuroscience and Therapeutics. 2015.