With the onset of the Russia-Ukraine war in 2022, fears of a nuclear disaster are back. Some who may have seen the days of the Cold War may attest to how widespread this fear is. With a world in 2022, which is divided by geopolitical tensions, trade wars, and some battling tensions within their own countries, it is completely natural that one may have growing fears of a nuclear attack in their vicinity. It is no secret that world leaders have access to weapons of mass destruction, with some even threatening to use them against an adversary country. This leads to panic and chaos amongst the masses, without any concrete guarantee of safety or peace within their country.
What is Nuclear Anxiety?
Nuclear anxiety, as the name suggests, is the fear or anxiety of a nuclear attack. It is primarily a phobia that affects people with constant fear and paranoia of nuclear destruction. With the Russia-Ukraine war showing no signs of an end and neither country surrendering, the world, in general, is waiting with bated breath as to how this situation may span out. It is well known that Russia has possession of many nukes, and they won’t hesitate to use them if the situation worsens. On the other end, Ukraine has the moral support of the West and the European powers. None would hesitate to come to Ukraine’s rescue in the event of a full-blown nuclear war.
It is completely normal for someone living under such circumstances to have nuclear anxiety. Any European would admit that an uncomfortable eerie fear persists throughout the continent. To be living in such close quarters to the war and not have any fear of a nuclear attack is not easy. Several studies have indicated that in 2022, even Americans have had the highest levels of nuclear anxiety compared to the past.
For the first time, the world has reached these levels of nuclear anxiety post the tumultuous period of the world wars, the Cuban missile crisis, etc.
Origins of Nuclear Anxiety
The world had seen the horrifying effects of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The years following the attack were full of anxiety, fear, and constant paranoia. This was followed by the Cuban Missile crisis in the 1960s, which literally showed the world how two superpowers with nukes when in conflict, could literally bring the world to the brink of nuclear war. This was enough to instill nuclear anxiety among society and a sense of never-ending despair and anxiety. Experts recognized the term ‘nuclear anxiety’ in the 1980s, and several activist groups protested against concentrating power among world leaders with access to nukes.
Nuclear Anxiety in 2022
It has been established that the beginning of the decade has been in extremely rough conditions. It started with the pandemic, volatility in economies, a war between Russia and Ukraine, and then record inflation. The war has particularly been extremely difficult for all countries. Ukraine will never be the same again, with their country destroyed and millions displaced from their homes. All this is happening with a looming fear of a nuclear attack. Foreign policy experts also cannot give concrete opinions since a lot depends upon a single leader of a powerful country. As a result, nuclear anxiety has shot up to high levels in 2022. Coupled with issues like unemployment, inflation, etc., it has made many people spend these times in utter despair.
Impact of Nuclear Anxiety
There are several long-lasting effects of nuclear anxiety. Some of them are listed below:
- Effect on mental health: Since there is nothing much a common person can do to prevent nuclear war, a sense of despair and hopelessness is created amongst those affected by it. The access to nukes is ultimately at the hand of world leaders, and no one can do anything about it. This creates a permanent dent on one’s mental health
- Impact on businesses and the economy: Businesses affected by nuclear anxiety tend to step back on new investments or completely relocate to safer countries. This tends to permanently damage the economy, increasing unemployment.
- Impact on children: Psychologists have claimed that children growing up with nuclear anxiety tend to have extreme anxiety-related issues in adulthood. This is the most horrifying impact since an entire generation growing up on the brink of a nuclear war would change the course of the country forever. Even if the anxiety of a nuclear attack decreases, it would leave children and adults with permanent trauma.
How to Deal with Nuclear Anxiety
It is always advised to seek professional help to cope with nuclear anxiety. A few measures for dealing with nuclear anxiety are listed below:
- Taking care of health: Even though common citizens cannot control geopolitical issues, they can always try caring for their bodies. Regular exercise and intake of nutritious food are necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle. A healthy body always helps to cope better with mental issues.
- Decrease exposure to media: Anyone having nuclear fear would worsen their situation if they are constantly glued to their TV or phone screens. With a ton of fake news around us, it is very important to limit exposure to any form of media and engage more in therapeutic and fun activities.
- Seek professional help: Anyone with nuclear fear should consult an expert to cope with it. It is very difficult due to the stigma associated with therapy in society, but one must consider their mental well-being. Regular therapy and necessary medication are very important to control nuclear anxiety and keep it in check.
The world is in a difficult and polarized phase right now. Though mental health and well-being have become a common topic of discussion now, more is left to be done at the ground level. Children and parents need to be sensitized, regular counseling must be provided in schools and colleges, and governments should increase funding for these activities. Unfortunately, the world has had to encounter a war in 2022, which has again brought in nuclear anxiety. We need to ensure that our mental health is in a good state since that is all in our hands.