|Immediately following radiation exposure,
atomic-bomb survivors experienced stress brought on by a broad
range of physical, social, and psychological factors. Initial
burns and injuries were followed by the onset of acute radiation
symptoms, such as epilation (hair loss), bleeding, and diarrhea,
even in those who previously appeared unhurt. Deaths of family
members and the general upheaval of their lives as well as
reports of an increased incidence of cancer as a late effect
of radiation exposure heightened survivors' anxiety and fears.
In cases of atomic-bomb exposure, it is unclear to what extent
symptoms reported by survivors were psychological or radiation-induced.
Though psychological effects from radiation exposure must
have been considerable, few studies have been conducted in
this area. However, in the 1950s, psychiatrists in Hiroshima
and Nagasaki reported increased complaints among A-bomb survivors
of neurotic symptoms, including general fatigue, amnesia,
and lack of concentration as well as other symptoms commonly
associated with autonomic nerve imbalance, such as palpitation
or a sense of burning or chill.
Survivor responses to RERF questionnaires revealed many of
the symptoms now described in post traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD), which occurs following experiences of great terror,
such as floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. Symptoms
reported by A-bomb survivors included recalling the occurrence
and becoming upset, experiencing an increased sense of unresponsiveness
and immobility, and feeling guilt and discouragement in addition
to demonstrating such physical symptoms as dizziness, unconsciousness,
headache, and nausea.
Further study of the psychological effects from radiation
exposure from the atomic bombings is planned.
|References about this subject
||Lifton RJ: Death in Life−Survivors of Hiroshima.
New York, Random House, 1967
||Yamada M, Kodama K et al: The long-term psychological sequelae
of atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Proceedings
of the Medical Basis for Radiation-Accident Preparedness.
III: The Psychological Perspective; 1990 Dec 5-7; Oak Ridge