The nuclear power disaster unfolding in Japan, following a 9.0 earthquake and massive tsunami, has not only Japan, but also large portions of the US and even parts of Europe on edge.

What could possibly be worse, however, is fear itself, according to some health experts.

In the areas affected by the 1986 Chernobyl accident, a crippling sense of hopelessness set in and was passed down through generations.

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The Washington Post writes: Although radiation escaping from a nuclear power plant catastrophe can increase the risk of many cancers and other health problems, stress, anxiety and fear ended up in many ways being much greater long-term threats to health and well-being after Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and other nuclear accidents, experts said Monday.

The psychological effects were the biggest health effects of all — by far," said Fred Mettler, a University of New Mexico professor emeritus and one of the world's leading authorities on radiation, who studied Chernobyl for the World Health Organization.

"On an individual level, these range all the way from anxiety disorders, depression and substance abuse to a kind of culture of fatalism and hopelessness that has gripped the population in many areas, and it continues today." There's no doubt that this kind of emotional stress and trauma can have far-reaching and devastating effects on your health, so please, first and foremost, I urge you to address your emotions and stress levels during this challenging time.

The first step is to relax and seek not to worry as it is likely that will cause you far more damage than this relatively small exposure to radiation will.

, but if you need help, you should be able to talk to a human.

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