Warning Signs Of Emotional Distress

By molly atherton 11 months ago

1. How emotional distress manifests

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Emotional distress can manifest in various ways, and the warning signs are generally different for everyone.  So there are many warning signs that you should make yourself aware of so that you are able to recognize the signs when you or someone else is going through some emotional distress.  This way ensures that you are in a good position to seek help for either yourself or for someone you know who is experiencing any symptoms of emotional distress.  To help you get started, here are some common symptoms...

2. Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness

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We all feel sad sometimes - it is a common emotion and it's totally normal to have feelings of sadness from time to time.  It isn't an easy emotion to sit with, but most of the time, like with all of our emotions, you can usually be reassured that it will come and go.  However, sadness can become a problem when it is persistent and is coupled with this overwhelming sense of hopelessness that you're going to feel like this forever.  This may be a symptom of depression and it may also be a warning sign that you or someone you know is going through emotional distress.

3. Increased irritability

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If you notice that little things are making you or someone you know feel agitated, irritable, and angry, this alone might not be a warning sign of emotional distress, but when coupled with other symptoms, it could very well be a symptom.  You might notice that you're getting annoyed with things that wouldn't have irritated you before, but you just can't help but feel the discomfort of this emotion and it might really feel like it's getting to you and bringing you down.  And the way you react can also impact those around you too.

4. Changes in appetite

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Emotional distress can also manifest in your eating habits and can also really affect your appetite.  This is almost certainly different for everyone if this is one of the symptoms of emotional distress.  Some people might not have much of an appetite and may eat much less than before and some might eat more than before, finding comfort in eating.  Either way, changes to one's appetite, particularly if it's an extreme change, might lead to other physical and mental health issues so it's important to get help and support with emotional distress as soon as it's needed.

5. Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that were once enjoyed

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Another warning sign of emotional distress might be if you notice either yourself or someone you know is if you start to lose interest in partaking in your old hobbies or interests.  They might not excite or inspire you anymore, especially if you've been hit with other symptoms like fatigue, low energy, and feelings of worthlessness, and you might notice that it's really difficult to enjoy the things you once loved doing.  This may also be a symptom of depression but experts believe that it could also signify some kind of emotional distress too.

6. Feelings of guilt

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Unfortunately, emotional distress can manifest through a variety of mixed but challenging emotions and one of these is the feeling of guilt.  And this guilt might not even have any place in your life, but you might manage to still find things to feel guilty about.  Sometimes these include whether you're a good enough friend, partner, parent, son/daughter, or even whether you've worked hard enough at work.  If you notice feelings of guilt affecting your mood and ultimately your overall well-being, then it might be time to seek help from a trusted friend or even a professional.

7. Feelings of worthlessness

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Another warning sign of emotional distress, as well as possible feelings of guilt, it is also common to potentially feel a sense of worthlessness too, which can be extremely challenging to sit with.  This is because it might include feelings of desperation and hopelessness and these feelings can make it really difficult to see past them.  Of course, feeling this way can become an issue, particularly when it is ongoing, and if this is the case, it's certainly worth seeking professional support to help you to gain a better perspective on your emotions.

8. Fatigue or low energy levels

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Being constantly tired with very low energy levels and fatigue can also be a warning sign of emotional distress.  Distress is defined as extreme anxiety, sorrow, or pain, and when a person suffers distress, it can be an extreme thing to try to cope with, especially alone.  And it can completely zap your energy levels too which inevitably makes dealing with difficult emotions much harder.  When we're tired, it's really difficult to be able to see a logical perspective on why you're feeling the way you are and it's therefore advised that you seek professional help if your distress is affecting different aspects of your life.

9. Changes in sleep habits

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Some people might also experience changes in their sleep habits too.  And, again, the ways in which it affects your sleep vary from person to person.  For example, due to fatigue, some individuals may notice that they're sleeping too much, and despite the amount of sleep they might be getting, they're still tired when they awake.  And on the other hand, despite the fatigue, some individuals might actually suffer from insomnia and struggle to fall or stay asleep.  And some individuals might experience nightmares disrupting their sleep too.

10. Difficulty concentrating or making decisions

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Another sign of emotional distress that you should look out for in yourself or in someone you know is if you have difficulty concentrating on anything.  And when we say anything, we don't just mean concentrating on your work or other projects, but you find yourself completely unable to even concentrate on the television.  You might also feel like you're unable to make decisions too, even when they're relatively small like which television program to watch or even which road to take on your way to the store.  Emotional distress can make everyday tasks so much more difficult.

11. Excessive worry or anxiety

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In addition to some of these symptoms already mentioned, if you find yourself worrying excessively or feeling particularly anxious, this might also be a warning sign of emotional distress.  There might be something specific that you're worrying about, but even if it's something small, if you're going through emotional distress it might feel much bigger.  And this excess worry can cause physical and emotional symptoms of anxiety including a faster heartbeat, restlessness, sweating, and even panic attacks.

12. Withdrawal from social activities

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When you're dealing with emotional distress, it can take so much out of you that no wonder you are not jumping at the chance of socializing with others.  In fact, this is another possible warning sign of emotional distress.  So if you notice a friend or someone else that you know withdrawing from social activities and you're left wondering when the last time you saw them was, it might be worth checking in with them and letting them know that you're there if they need support through their difficult time.

13. A sense of impending doom

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Another possible warning sign of emotional distress might be feeling a sense of impending doom.  And this can be particularly overwhelming because it might make you constantly feel like something bad might happen.  Even if it doesn't, sometimes you just can't get that feeling out of your mind.  Many report this symptom causing anxiety and even potential stress which of course can also cause other physical and emotional symptoms.  If you're concerned about yourself or about someone else, it is important that you seek the professional help that you might need.

14. Panic attacks

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Emotional distress can cause quite severe symptoms of anxiety including panic attacks.  During a panic attack, you are likely to get an intense surge of physical and emotional symptoms that can come on very quickly.  Sometimes there might be a reason for a panic attack, however often, there might not be any apparent reason for them.  They can be alarming and you might get physical symptoms including trembling, sweating, lightheadedness, chills, as well as anxiety and irrational thinking.

15. Feelings of isolation or loneliness

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Another sign of emotional distress might be experiencing feelings of loneliness or isolation.  This can manifest in several ways, including feeling socially isolated.  If you or someone you know is suffering from emotional distress, it might be the case that withdrawing from social activities becomes the norm.  So it's worth always checking on your pals if you're worried that this might be the case.  There's also a feeling like no one understands how you feel and why you're acting or feeling the way you are.  So it's certainly worth opening up if you can, even if it's that first step of just asking for help.

16. Intense and unpredictable mood swings

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When someone's in emotional distress, it can be a really challenging and unsettling experience for them and their loved ones.  Another warning sign of emotional distress might be intense and unpredictable mood swings ranging from intense happiness to deep sadness or anger.  These severe fluctuations can really affect a person's day-to-day life, as well as relationships.  This can be really overwhelming for the individual as they struggle to regulate their emotions so it's worth encouraging them to seek professional help in order to come to a more stable place.

17. A significant decline in work performance

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If you notice a significant decline in your own or how someone you know performs at work, this might just be an indicator of how your's or their personal life and emotions are impacting your professional life.  When we are emotionally drained, or in distress, this can really hinder our ability to perform at our best.  Recognizing that a decline in work performance can be a sign that a person is emotionally distressed can really encourage a supportive conversation and help them to navigate this difficult time.

18. Feeling overwhelmed by normal tasks

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Being emotionally distressed and experiencing overwhelm can be incredibly distressing and can make a person feel like they're just completely unable to cope with everyday tasks, their thoughts, emotions, or situations they're faced with.  This can also make it really difficult for them to make decisions or think clearly which can lead to a sense of helplessness and can really feed their distress.  And these feelings can potentially worsen emotional distress which is why offering up support and practical advice can be beneficial.

19. Feeling disconnected from the world around them

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When someone is in emotional distress, a warning sign of this to look out for might be feeling disconnected from the world around them.  This can feel really isolating as they experience a potential sense of detachment, numbness, or apathy.  This can be a very lonely experience so it's certainly worth checking up on your friends and family to check if they need support, or professional help as they attempt to reconnect to the world around them.  If it's you experiencing this, it's certainly worth seeking help.

20. Engaging in risky and reckless behavior

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When someone is engaging in risky and reckless behavior, it can be quite alarming and you worry about whether they are going to end up hurting themselves or those around them.  But it's important to approach with compassion and empathy as this could be a warning sign that they're struggling to cope with emotional distress and are using their actions as a temporary escape from their pain.  Non-judgemental support can really help them to find healthier coping mechanisms and help them to navigate their emotional distress.

21. Intrusive thoughts

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Being in the depths of emotional distress can be a really intrusive and overwhelming experience for an individual.  And one way it has been found to manifest is through intrusive thoughts.  These kinds of thoughts are unpleasant and involve getting unwanted thoughts that are commonly of a distressing nature.  But it's important to understand that these thoughts do not define who you are and they are very common too.  So it's important to open up as best as you can and seek help to work on managing your intrusive thoughts.

22. Feelings of shame

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Going through emotional distress, no matter what has triggered it, can really impact a person's self-esteem and therefore overall well-being.  Feelings of shame are very unpleasant to deal with and often arise from a sense of inadequacy or guilt.  And when feelings like this surface, it is really common for the individual to be really hard on themselves and they blame themselves for their circumstances and see themselves as flawed.  It is important that a person gets help with feelings of shame, either by opening up to a friend or even seeking professional help.

23. Persistent feelings of restlessness

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When someone is experiencing emotional distress, they might also experience persistent feelings of restlessness which often manifests as a complete inability to relax or settle down.  This can really make the individual feel incredibly agitated and never able to find a sense of calm and peace which inevitably has a significant impact on their well-being.  This impact on their well-being might be down to the stress of feeling constantly agitated or even the tiredness felt by never being able to relax.

24. Difficulty trusting others

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Unfortunately, you might also notice difficulties or even a complete inability to trust others.  You see, emotional distress can really erode trust which might lead to skepticism and apprehension about the reliability of others around you.  This can, of course, affect a person's existing relationships and even cause the inability or difficulty of making new connections with others.  So even though this can be frustrating, it's really important to have patience with the individual and treat them with understanding, as well as show them that you recognize why they're struggling with trusting others due to their emotional struggles.

25. Increased sensitivity to criticism

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With the impact of emotional distress on a person's self-esteem, it's no wonder that a person experiencing emotional distress has an increased sensitivity to any kind of criticism.  Even if the criticism is constructive and well-intentioned, this might trigger those all-too-familiar feelings of inadequacy or shame.  This might lead to defensiveness and they might become excessively self-critical.  Emphasizing their strengths might help but the individual may need help building healthier ways to deal with criticism.

26. Loss of interest in personal hygiene or self-care

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If a person suddenly or even gradually becomes less interested in maintaining their personal hygiene or engaging in any form of self-care, then this might just be a warning sign that their emotional state is having an impact on their overall well-being.  When they stop or struggle to engage in self-care or personal hygiene tasks such as showering or maintaining a clean living space, it might be an indicator that the individual needs sensitive and gentle support so they can gradually regain their motivation for completing these tasks.

27. Difficulty controlling anger

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When an individual has difficulty controlling their anger, this can be difficult for everyone around them.  Especially when they come out with intense bursts of anger that they struggle to control.  But as challenging as it might be, it's also important to remember that this might also be a warning sign that they are in emotional distress.  Approaching them with empathy and understanding can really help to provide a supportive environment for them, encouraging them to engage in anger management techniques and perhaps professional help.

28. Feeling detached from one's body

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Another warning sign that a person is experiencing emotional distress is if they show signs of a condition sometimes referred to as 'disassociation' or 'depersonalization'.  This can be a disorienting experience where an individual feels as if they're outside of their body, observing themselves from a distance and being disconnected from their own physical sensations.  This might be helped by encouraging grounding techniques or therapy that might help the person gradually reconnect with their body.

29. Harming self or thoughts of self-harm

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In serious cases, a warning sign of emotional distress might manifest as thoughts of inflicting harm on one's self.  And sometimes, these thoughts are acted upon.  If you spot this in yourself, or somebody around you, immediate intervention is required from a mental health professional, or a helpline, in order to ensure the safety of the individual and help them by removing any dangers and providing them with continuous support and compassion.

30. Reaching out

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It is really important that individual experiences of emotional distress are likely to vary, and there is no 'one size fits all' solution to helping someone going through emotional distress.  If you or someone you know is experiencing several of these warning signs, it is important that you seek the support that you need from a friend, a family member, or professional help from a mental health care provider.  It is useful to know that there are also helplines available too that might be worth researching.