A special edition of The Lancet medical journal reports that the long-term psychological effects of nuclear disasters like the Fukushima incident can be even more damaging to public health than the immediate risk from radiation.

Now keep in mind that no one has died as a result of radiation exposure in Fukushima, Japan, where damage to the nuclear power plant caused by the March 2011 tsunami and the release of large amounts of radioactive material led to the mass evacuation of 170,000 people living within a 30km radius. Those living in the regions affected by nuclear accidents are more likely to suffer post-traumatic stress and depression or to feel stigmatized – problems often exacerbated by overblown estimations of the ongoing radiation risk.

This is an interesting piece of information when also considering the issues that could happen following other radiation exposures such as terrorism.

Fukushima evacuees were found to be almost five times more likely than average to have suffered psychological distress. Experts writing in the special edition of The Lancet, published to mark the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb attacks, said that the social and psychological aftermath of a nuclear accident was too often overlooked.

Among people affected by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, rates of depression and post-traumatic stress remain high, and a UN assessment conducted in 2006 concluded that the incident’s effect on mental health was the most serious