Psych Central

anxiety and JapanThe events unfolding in Japan are frightening. Many of us remember drills in elementary school when we sat under our desks hiding from potential air strikes during the cold war. We read about radiation poisoning and knew that our wooden desks were no protection from those horrors.

People with OCD often have exaggerated fears of becoming contaiminated and radiation is a common concern. We know that for those with this particular fear, the possible melt-down of nuclear power plants can increase their symptoms. We have a few suggestions for those with OCD and those who care about them.

  • Talk about your fears with your therapist.
  • Limit the time you spend watching the news or reading about the problem on the internet.
  • Realize that the odds of something bad happening to you personally as a result of this disaster is likely pretty small.
  • Try to realize that life is full of uncertainty.
  • If you are close to someone with OCD, do not engage in endless discussions to reassure the person.
  • Pray and send loving thoughts to those who are suffering in Japan–but go on living your life as best as you can.

>Photo by Topato, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.



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    Last reviewed: 16 Mar 2011

APA Reference
Smith, L. (2011). Anxiety, OCD, and Fears of Radiation. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 24, 2014, from


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Laura L. Smith, Ph.D. and Charles H. Elliott, Ph.D. are authors of many books, including Overcoming Anxiety for Dummies and Child Psychology & Development for Dummies.

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