‘Oppenheimer’ Effect: Understanding & Managing Nuclear Anxiety

Oppenheimer was released in July this year. The genuineness of Cristopher Nolan, combined with the strong team of Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., and others, has officially been the talk of the town.

Tracing the life of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, the movie immerses the audience through the journey of nuclear weapons, mostly through the eye of its creator. It makes you feel the pain, guilt, agony, and inner turmoil that Oppenheimer feels. 

The movie also initiates discussions around various issues surrounding nuclear weapons and wars, including nuclear anxiety. 

Nuclear anxiety, as a term, found a newfound interest in early 2023 when Russia waged war on Ukraine. The Trump era was also marred by frequent tussles with North Korea and increased discussions around nuclear weapons. Nuclear anxiety, or nucleomituphobia, was first coined in the 1960s during the Cold War era to define people’s fear or phobia of nuclear war-related events. 

In this post, we will dive deeper into what nuclear anxiety is and how you can learn to manage it. Let’s get started.

nuclear anxiety

What Is Nuclear Anxiety?

First coined by American anthropologist Margaret Mead, nuclear anxiety is a survivalist tendency that arises in people due to looming nuclear war threats. Most of the research around the issue in the 20th was centered around child psychiatry and anxiety among youth.

Nuclear anxiety causes immense mental distress in people of all ages, especially the youth. The symptoms include the following:

  • frequent anxiety,
  • feelings of helplessness,
  • constant worrying,
  • hopelessness, 
  • loss of purpose in life,
  • lack of satisfaction from life,
  • fear and agitation, 
  • social withdrawal and loneliness, and
  • increased drug or alcohol use.

There are some gender differences in symptoms, as per research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Women are likely to show more anxiety and fear than men due to societal standards of manliness or masculinity. Women will likely feel more lonely, while men will show increased drug and alcohol usage.

Read more: Unveiling the Toll – Impact Of Patriarchy On Mental Health

Tips On How To Manage Nuclear Anxiety

Now that you know what nuclear anxiety is, let us look at some effective tips for dealing with the condition. 

1. Dissociate from triggering content. 

When you are consumed by an intense fear or worry about something, you tend to be more hyperactive around the topic. So when nuclear anxiety stresses you out, you feed into it by obsessively searching about things associated with it. 

However, in such times it is important to do the exact opposite. Avoid phrases, conversations, and content that increases or triggers your anxiety. Limit the consumption of news around the topic. We understand that it is important to be well-informed, but it is also essential to cut back and give yourself some rest.

2. Accept the uncertainty. 

Living in a heightened nuclear war threat means dealing with overwhelming uncertainty. You are not sure about what is happening or what to do. 

The best way to deal with this uncertainty is to accept it. Instead, try to focus on the things you can control. Spend time with your family and be mindful of your emotions.

3. Get Professional Help.

If your addiction to news and increased anxiety due to nuclear war-related threats starts affecting your daily life, it is critical to get professional help. A therapist can help you chalk out these negative thought patterns and help put things in perspective.

Read more: Best Online Therapy Platforms – 6 Easy-To-Use And Affordable Sites


Oppenheimer by Cristopher Nolan has already become a global hit and has influenced multiple discussions on the impact of nuclear weapons. One such discussion involves nuclear anxiety or the fear of nuclear war-related threats. 

Coined in the Cold War, the term has been resurrected due to recent global issues like the war between Russia and China. We hope this post will help you understand and manage nuclear anxiety better.

Barbie released along with Oppenheimer and has started its own share of path-breaking discussions. The movie dives into the depths of the impact of patriarchy on women’s life. To learn more about the effect of patriarchy on mental health in society, click here.

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