WHAT IS RADIOPHOBIA?
Commonly known as fear of radiation, radiophobia is an unjustified pathological fear of radiation or the harmful effects produced by X-rays. Etymologically, the word radiophobia derives from the Latin word “radium”, which means lightning, and the Greek word “Phobos”, which means fear or fear.
This term began to emerge in Ukraine in 1987, after the Chernobyl disaster, and today there are so many people who say they have this disorder that it is no longer considered abnormal.
In fact, the fear of ionizing radiation should not be considered an abnormal response, taking into account all the harmful effects it has on our health.
However, when it becomes irrational, generally due to lack of information or poor understanding of the subject, it is considered a pathological state.
The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that constitutes, together with the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011, the largest environmental disaster in history .
In it, approximately 240 people were irradiated, of which approximately 30 died from the radiation.
The term radiophobia is used in several related aspects as a reference for a neurological disorder, such as a specific phobia and as the general opposition to the use of nuclear energy ( although the latter is not endorsed by the medical society, but only as an aspect that generates controversy ).
SYMPTOMS OF RADIOPHOBIA
The people who began to present this disorder in Chernobyl described a series of symptoms that would later be observed in individuals in the United States .
In Spain, a number of people began to present them as well, but attempts were made to downplay the cases, as well as the damage that radiation could cause on people.
The symptoms that a radiophobic individual will present are:
- Sleep disturbances
- Memory problems.
Among other less frequent symptoms, the phobia can be triggered in response to exposure to ionizing radiation, due to lack of knowledge or due to some trauma, such as that experienced by the affected people in Chernobyl.
TREATMENT TO OVERCOME RADIOPHOBIA
To start a treatment , a professional diagnosis must first be had , since the symptoms can be confused with other disorders such as anxiety.
Psychotherapy is the most widely used treatment .
It consists of showing the patient the causes of their phobia and gradually teaching them to master panic attacks and triggering stimuli.
Another widely used method is exposure therapy, where the professional brings the patient closer and closer to what he is afraid of, until he learns to live with it.
Similar to exposure therapy is systematic desensitization , in which the patient’s imagination is used instead of actual stimuli.
Other treatments consist of neurolinguistic programming, coaching, and shock methods.
Techniques to control breathing and muscle tension can also be of great help.
Although there is no drug treatment to help improve symptoms, therapy is usually successful , and those with this disorder have a good prognosis.
Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.