backup og meta

Emotionally Distressed? What Does That Look Like and What To Do Next

Expertly reviewed by Jessica Espanto, LPT, MA, RPsy · Psychology · In Touch Community Services

Written by Kirsten Rocamora · Updated Jul 28, 2022

Emotionally Distressed? What Does That Look Like and What To Do Next

People may think that being emotional distressed is merely a symptom of other mental health disorders. However, anyone can experience this. You may experience emotional distress even if you do not meet the criteria of other psychological conditions.

When you experience difficult circumstances or situations, you may become overwhelmed with powerful emotions. Following this, you may undergo an episode of emotional distress. Learn more about what emotional distress is, how you can recognize it, and how it can be treated.

Can you identify if you or someone else is emotionally distressed?

Emotional distress might be difficult to spot, especially among people who are naturally sensitive.

However, there are distinct signs that a person may be experiencing emotional distress. These symptoms may lead to worse situations for the one suffering them. If you see the signs listed below, you might need to seek or encourage others to get professional help:

Emotional symptoms

  • Hopelessness and helplessness
  • Overwhelmed feeling

Cognitive symptoms

  • Concentration difficulties
  • Constant anxiety and worry over things

Behavioral symptoms

  • Isolation
  • Significant changes in appetite and diet
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Dependence on substances such as drugs or alcohol

Physical symptoms

  • Sudden and constant fatigue

These are only some of the most common symptoms that a person might go through when they are subject to emotional distress.

If you feel that you are emotionally experiencing something unusual or wrong, take steps towards self-care and seek help from a professional if needed.

What happens to people who are emotionally distressed?

Experiencing emotional distress is normal. Upsetting events such as a break-up, a big loss, or a significant life change may trigger emotional distress.

It is possible for you to manage emotional distress on your own, or with the support of people close to you. However, it is best to seek treatment. Untreated emotional distress may lead to feeling worse.

Experiencing a large bout of emotional distress, or experiencing moments of it over a long period of time may have lasting effects on you and your environment. It can cause:

  • Loss of motivation
  • Trouble with concentration
  • Fatigue

Emotional distress may affect your work, academics, and even relationships with other people.

The moment you sense something is wrong, ask for help. It is never wrong to need or ask for help. In fact it will be more beneficial to you and everyone else.

Treatment and management

This depends on what symptoms you have been experiencing and the severity of the impact on your life and personal well-being. Treatment and management may include:

  • Intensive self-care
  • Support groups
  • Therapy and professional help
  • Stable and strong support systems
  • Proper medication and intake
  • Emotional regulation

Coping with emotional distress and regulating your emotions can be difficult, but it is achievable. With the proper amount of support – either professionally or through loved ones – you can achieve emotional regulation.

You have to make sure that you are aware of the situation, and of what’s happening to you. It helps to understand that emotional distress is a normal part of one’s life. Acceptance is the key to obtaining a sense of calm.

Key takeaway

Being emotionally distressed is difficult, although it is a normal part of one’s life.

Achieving control of your emotions is more difficult when you’re alone. Seek support from your loved ones and from mental health professionals. It helps to ask for help, especially when other areas of your life become severely affected.

Learn more about Healthy Minds here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Expertly reviewed by

Jessica Espanto, LPT, MA, RPsy

Psychology · In Touch Community Services

Written by Kirsten Rocamora · Updated Jul 28, 2022

ad iconadvertisement

Was this article helpful?

ad iconadvertisement
ad iconadvertisement