Emotional Distress: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Emotional distress is a condition that many people have already heard of. But some people don’t know that it has another side to it – the mental and emotional health factor. Emotional distress can happen to anyone, so you might need emotional support from other people who understand how you feel. You are on the right page if you want help understanding emotional distress, including what causes it, its symptoms, and how to treat it.

emotional distress

What is Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress is a term used to describe a state of mental anguish. Emotional distress can come from different situations or problems. Stress burnout is when you are stressed and have so much stress that it causes you problems.

Emotional distress is also used in the law, and we say that someone has emotional distress when they feel angry, humiliated, or sad due to other people’s actions. We could file for damages if emotional distress happened because another person’s actions hurt us.

Emotional Stress Vs. Distress

Many people think that emotional stress and distress are the same. But they are not. Stress is your reaction to an event, while emotional distress is when you have a lot of stress for a long time or when the anxiety is terrible.

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There are many differences between emotional stress and distress. Some of these include the following:

Emotional Stress:

  • The distress is an effect of the stress and not necessarily a cause.
  • It’s possible to feel stressed but not distressed.
  • Stress is usually short term, whereas distress can be long term.


  • The distresses are the source of the stress and not just the effects caused by it. For example, someone who feels anxious often experiences physical symptoms such as a racing heart or panic attack when they have an anxiety attack (distress). This is because anxiety could be a form of depression (distress), among other things.

Cause of Emotional Distress

You need to know what can cause a person to feel emotional distress. There are many different ways to get emotional distress, and the factors depend on the situation. Here are some examples of situations that could cause someone to feel emotional distress:


The workplace is a stressful environment. Some stress is good and can make us more motivated, but other stress levels are too much for us. When there is emotional distress, we need to know how to help someone with anxiety in the workplace:

  • People like to challenge themselves.
  • People may be afraid of what others think about them
  • Frequent criticism or judgment from managers

Home Environment

Home environments can make you feel bad. You should know what things can cause this problem and how to help people with it.

  • Relationship problems with family members, significant other, or friends
  • Major life changes such as becoming a parent or moving to a new home
  • Neighbourhood problems like crime or noise
  • Low income affects your ability to buy what you need
  • Discrimination against your race, gender, religion, sexual orientation
  • Feeling lonely or isolated
  • Having debt makes it hard for you to buy things you need because of the interest rates and how much it costs. An unhealthy lifestyle can also lead to these things.

Traumatic Experience

Emotional distress can happen when people have bad things happen to them. It might be any of these:

  • Death of family member or loved one
  • Accident
  • Abuse

Symptoms of Emotional Distress

One of the best ways to improve mental health is to know the symptoms of emotional distress. But remember that these symptoms can be different depending on who you are.

Here are a few signs that might show that someone is having a hard time:

  • Eating too much or not enough
  • Pulling away from hobbies or relationships
  • Having no energy
  • Feeling pain around the body for no reason
  • Drinking alcohol or doing drugs

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Emotional stress can show up in different ways. Here are some signs that children and teenagers may have:

  • Withdrawing from friends and playgroups
  • Being more competitive for the attention of teachers and parents
    Unwillingness to leave home
  • Sudden aggression
  • Conflict with parents and peers
  • Lack of concentration
  • Resisting authority
  • Underage drinking or misuse and abuse of prescription drugs

Children and teens are more vulnerable to emotional stress because they are young. They need help from adults to learn how to manage their stress not to get upset.

Treatments for Emotional Distress

There are ways to help a person who is suffering from emotional distress. The first step before doing any treatment is to find out what might be making the person feel bad or what their triggers are. Once you know which factors might make them feel bad, you can figure out which treatment will help them best.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the best way to figure out how to change your thoughts and behaviours. It is goal-oriented and tries to help you fix your problems. This can be done by thinking about or doing something different. But it only works if you, the person who has the problem, are also involved in it. There are several ways that CBT can help stop stress burnout, depending on what causes it in the first place.

Stress Management Strategies

Stress management strategies are ways you can stop stress burnout. Some examples of these strategies are relaxation, meditation, and breathing exercises.

Also Read: Music Therapy For Stress and How Does it Work


Exercise is a good way to help people with anxiety. This is because aerobic exercise can improve mood, self-esteem, and sleep by encouraging anti-anxiety chemicals in the body.

Mental and emotional health is important for long life. Many stress-causing factors can affect us.

Although how to help someone with anxiety may be hard, the information mentioned above might help them avoid falling into an emotional state of distress. This is because you now understand the meaning and know about the different signs and symptoms to watch out for.

About Mikael Gomez

Mikael is a health nutrition expert and loves mountain biking. Mikael started his health product research journey about 6 years ago and still loves doing it. Apart from spending time on his study, research & literature, he plays basketball regularly and is a fitness freak. Follow me on Linkedin

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